In-Lend Fund is an initiative out of Claremont McKenna College that aims to empower financially excluded and socially impactful entrepreneurs within the Inland Empire by offering small business counseling services and small business microloans.History:
In-Lend Fund grew out of a desire to connect the Claremont Colleges to the local Inland Empire community and to make sustainable and positive impacts on local businesses. Inspired by the rapid development of microfinance within developing countries, Nancy Li and Rhea Jean decided to found In-Lend Fund in 2012 to bring the power of microfinance to the Inland Empire.Letter from Rhea - ILF Founder:
In-Lend Fund: An Incredible, Inspiring, and Invaluable Journey
In-Lend Fund was created to reduce disparity that was evident in a market analysis which manifested that the underbanked and unbanked rates in Pomona were much higher than the national average. (Pomona: underbanked - 23.2%, unbanked - 14.7%; National average: underbanked - 17.9%, unbanked - 7.7%) We aimed to empower local communities in the Inland Empire by providing entrepreneurs with a greater access to capital and consulting services.
My journey with In-Lend Fund enabled me to discover my passions, redefine my future goals and incorporate social entrepreneurship as a central focus. In the process of working with my co-founder, Nancy, and the In-Lend Fund family including our clients, I have gained experience on leading teams and have been inspired to work even harder. I have learned the importance of persistence and developed my critical thinking skills. These experiences have helped shape my life post CMC.
While leading In-Lend Fund, I was able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of my team members as well as myself. It enabled me to discover the full potential of myself as well as the team, capitalize on each person's strengths and help overcome weaknesses. Being accountable for delegating work, setting targets for deliverables and deciding the scope with every client, I gained a sense of responsibility for the team as well as for the clients. I was also able to prioritize and manage time more effectively. This experience of leading teams has provided with me with valuable learnings which I am able to apply to the current team I am leading.
We faced a number of challenges especially in the first year of In-Lend Fund being founded, including a lack of funding and interest in our organization. Despite the challenges, Nancy's passion and my passion for the mission of In-Lend Fund motivated me to continue pitching the idea to professors, businesses, students, potential partners, and potential clients. My persistence paid off, and slowly we were able to change the initial skeptical perceptions of students, professors and businesses. We became a Lend for America member and a partner of Kiva Zip (a non- profit organization that enables people to lend money to low income entrepreneurs and students), who agreed to endorse all the zero interest loans for our future clients. This experience has given me the strength and belief to persuade my current team and senior management on several organizational and strategic decisions that they were initially not in favor of.
Over the years, we faced additional challenges, including loan defaults. The loan defaults taught me to work with my clients on a closer basis, understand their challenges and difficulties, actively help them to develop an optimal plan, and enforce tighter regulations for future clients. Working with our clients has enabled me to hone my analytical, problem solving and communication skills. Having developed these skills, I was able to make a smooth transition to Bain and Company, my next stop after CMC. While working with clients at Bain, I was able to apply the skills and lessons I learned from the challenges that I faced at In-Lend Fund. I was able to see issues from the clients' perspective, and understand their priorities, concerns, and the drivers that led to the decisions they made.
My In-Lend Fund clients reminded me why I am so passionate about the In-Lend Fund’s mission, even when I was faced with doubts. For example, one client, Irma, came from a family that was involved with gangs and drugs. She became homeless as a result of detaching herself from her extended family. Then, she started her own organization to provide for her family. She set the example not only for her family members but for the entire community. It is clients like her that motivated me to work even harder to provide them with the ideal financial and marketing guidance and enable them to establish partnerships in order to make their dreams turn to reality. They continue to inspire me even today.
I am so proud of the current In-Lend Fund team. Isabella, Katherine, Rish, Ethan, Margaux, and Cathy have become empowering leaders. I hope In-Lenders continue to create impact, change the lives of many more clients, and have memorable experiences that will aid them with their lives post Claremont.
In-Lend Fund is a major player in the local microlending community, as it is the only microfinance institute offering zero percent interest loans in the Inland Empire, which encompasses over 18 million people. We serve financially excluded entrepreneurs in the local community. According to U.S. Census Bureau, 2009-2013 American Community Survey, our potential clients are more likely to have the following characteristics:
Out of the 59 cities surrounding Claremont, such as Pomona, Ontario, and Riverside, 12 stand out with unbanked and underbanked rates combined of over 40% of the population. These community members are cut-off from mainstream finance institutions such as banks and credit unions. Clearly, there is a significant market of people who rely on alternative forms of banking that In-Lend Fund can offer its services to.
Cathy Ye | Chief Executive Officer | CMC ‘18 Katherine Daifotis | Chief Operations Officer | CMC ‘18 Rish Chitre | Chief Financial Officer | CMC ‘18 Margaux Arnston | Client Acquisition Manager | CMC ‘18  Client Acquisition Team
Margaux Arnston | Client Acquisition Manager | CMC ‘18 Kate Layman | Client Acquisition Specialist | CMC ‘18 Joshua Graves | Client Acquisition Specialist | CMC '20 Alina Rainsford | Client Acquisition Specialist | CMC '20  Counseling Team
Mackenzie Strafford | Client Lead | CMC ‘18 Betzy Perez | Client Lead | CMC ‘19 Aarushi Tibrewala | Junior Consultant | CMC ‘18 Zijia He | Junior Consultant | CMC ‘18 Kate Layman | Junior Consultant | CMC ‘18 Jeremy Anderson | Junior Consultant | CMC '19 Alex McKenna | Junior Consultant | CMC ‘20 Mingyu Zheng | Junior Consultant | CMC ‘20  Due Diligence Team
Jack Tao | Risk Analyst | CMC ‘18 Justin Law | Risk Analyst | CMC ‘19 Blaze Li | Risk Analyst | CMC ‘19  Marketing Team
Katherine Daifotis | COO | CMC '18 Jeremy Anderson | Marketing Specialist | CMC '19 Kai Vogel | Marketing Specialist | CMC '19 Mingyu Zheng | Marketing Specialist | CMC '20  Web Developer
Jasen Choi | CMC ‘18