ST. LOUIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Advantage Capital, a financial services firm with a 26-year track record of growing small businesses and revitalizing low-income communities, today announced its role in celebrating some of the country’s top emerging leaders in community finance at this month’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Community Finance Challenge.
Held on MIT’s campus, the Community Finance Challenge (CFC) offered an opportunity for graduate students across the country to present their ideas on how to bring small business finance into the 21st century. Advantage Capital joined other industry leaders in judging the presentations, focused on solving some of the most pressing economic development issues facing communities today.
At both local and national levels, economic development initiatives to help bridge the economic divide among communities have evolved considerably. Efforts have become more efficient and targeted, with increased transparency and public-private alignment. Yet large swaths of America, most notably and recently rural America, continue to struggle with joblessness, shrinking populations and other socioeconomic disparities.
In addition, many businesses lack access to flexible capital, with traditional banks curtailing overall loan activity and making fewer small-dollar loans, essential for small business.
These issues and more were at the heart of each presentation at the MIT challenge. As part of the judging panel, Sandra Moore, chief impact officer at Advantage Capital, and Scott Murphy, Advantage Capital’s chief investment officer, heard firsthand from student teams on how to reinvigorate communities through financial organizations such as Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs).
“This was an incredible opportunity to hear from bright young minds on how to address the challenges of putting capital to work to give underserved small businesses and communities the leg-up they need to grow and thrive,” said Moore.
Though widely varied, the winning presentations offered ground-breaking new approaches and CDFI structures. The grand-prize winning team focused on serving immigrant entrepreneurs, while others offered a consortium of community development organizations and activities – better leveraging scale, technology and expertise.
Social impact was a persistent theme as well, with teams focused on creating quality jobs, improving communities, and targeting underrepresented minority business owners.
“The excitement and enthusiasm we saw from the teams is inspiring,” said Murphy. “This next generation of community-minded partners, investors and business owners will continue to create opportunity and growth in areas that need it most. We look forward to seeing what they do next.”
About Advantage Capital
Advantage Capital provides financing to established and emerging companies located in communities underserved by conventional sources of capital. Since 1992, the firm has invested more than $2.6 billion in companies from a diverse array of industry sectors, and has helped to create more than 48,000 jobs. Learn more at www.advantagecap.com, or via Twitter or LinkedIn.