Advantage Capital has a 26-year record as a financial services firm of revitalizing low-income communities and growing small businesses, providing funding through CAPCO programs. They are celebrating some of the emerging leaders in the country in community finance at the MIT or Massachusetts Institute of Technology Community Finance Challenge. They will assist the winners in using capital to help underserved communities. The event will take place on the MIT campus and provide graduate students with the opportunity to showcase their ideas for 21st century small business finances. Leaders in the industry will join Advantage Capital in the judging. The focus is on the pressing economic development communities are faced with.

The initiatives for economic development will be at both national and local levels. The efforts are for targeted and efficient alignment and an increase in transparency. Many areas in America and especially rural America are struggling with decreasing populations and the lack of jobs. Businesses do not have enough flexible capital and loan activity is being curtailed buy the banks. This means the essential small dollar loans required by small businesses have decreased.

These are the issues at the center of the MIT challenge presentations. The judging panel includes Advantage Capital’s Chief Impact Officer, Sandra Moore as well as the Chief Investment Officer for the company, Scott Murphy. They have both listened to firsthand accounts from the teams of students as to how communities should be reinvigorated through CDFI’s and financial organizations. Sandra Moore spoke of the wonderful opportunity to hear bright young students talk about the challenges of helping underserved communities and small businesses by providing them with the capital necessary for them to thrive and grow.

The winning presentations covered a lot of ground and offered new and exciting ideas and CDFI opportunities. The team who won the grand prize placed their focus on helping immigrant entrepreneurs. The other teams offered numerous ideas for activities, community development organizations, technology, a better leveraging scale and expertise. One of the most common themes was regarding the importance of social impact. The focus of these teams was on improving the communities, establishing quality jobs and targeting the owners of minority businesses who are underrepresented. Scott Murphy spoke of the inspiration behind the enthusiasm and excitement displayed by the teams. He feels the new generation of investors, businesses, and partners in the community will establish new solutions for growth where they are the most needed. He is interested in seeing where they go from here.