Microfinance for Low-Income Entrepreneurs in U.S.

Aug 4, 2014

Updates from LEND

To our supporters:

The Spring and Summer months of 2014 have been a exciting and demanding time for LEND. Since March of 2014, LEND has completed 3 loans totaling in $20,500. These loans have been disbursed to loan clients with a variety of needs, from getting the much needed capital to start a project to adding on to a store to foster business growth. As always these loans could not be accomplished without our supporters both locally in Evanston and throughout. Furthermore, they are a testament to the fact that microfinance can have meaningful impact on Evanston businesses.

Beyond lending, the Summer months have always provided a challenge for LEND. During the months from June to September LEND volunteers head off for summer vacation leaving a void as our operations get condensed to a smaller scope. This year we were fortunate enough to field a small staff of students who are in Evanston for the summer months to maintain our presence. They have been busying meeting with Evanston entreprenuers looking for business assistance as well as maintaining our relationships with current LEND clients. 

As the summer months roll into the fall, a rejuvenated LEND team looks forward to helping Evanston entreprenuers remove the obstacles that they face. With our supporters continued support we hope to build upon our success from earlier this year. 


Salil Gupta 

Apr 28, 2014

LEND primed for growth in spring 2014


The new year has brought many exciting changes to LEND. As of June 2013, LEND has begun the process of incorporating as an independent, tax-exempt 501(c)3 non-profit entity. Incorporation will bring significant changes, all of which will help us better serve Evanston entrepreneurs - allowing us more avenues to grow our capital base. Not only will we be able to make more loans, but we will have more flexibility as we begin to institutionalize. Our broader goal is to expand our operations into areas of Evanston that we have not targeted in the past and bring about a more consistent operational cycle throughout the year.

LEND has also welcomed a brand new executive team along with 6 new staff members. The team has been hard at work to further the efforts of the graduating senior class.  Extensive outreach work by the team has yielded an at-capacity business training program as well as new partnerships in the Evanston community. Lending operations have also seen an uptick this quarter as applications for our loans have continued to rise.

This year brings about many exciting opportunities and challenges for LEND. We ask you for your continued support in helping us achieve our mission of empowering entrepreneurs and driving economic growth.

LEND welcomes Victoria Adams to Evanston

Before she moved to Evanston this past fall, Victoria Adams performed in shows and gave private voice lessons to more than 35 students in Las Vegas. Several factors, including the economy, prompted her to relocate with her 11-year-old son.  

“I’m pretty much starting from scratch here,” Adams said. “But I have experience.”

Since the move, Adams has worked a variety of jobs including a waitressing gig at Walker Brothers. Recently, however, she’s been itching to pick up her passion again.

LEND team members Sabrina Kaplan and Hans Mueller-Schrader are helping Adams capitalize on her vast background in vocal performance. They hope to help her find a venue to teach students in, as well as design a simple website for the business.  

“There’s a lot more out here in Chicago," Adams said. "It’s much more cultural musically, and that's inspiring.”

LEND works with "Stepping Out On Faith"

Vivian Killebrew is the owner and operator of the consignment store Stepping Out on Faith, located on Orrington Ave right in the middle of downtown Evanston. The shop sells new or gently used high-end clothes and accessories for men and women at an affordable price. Stepping Out on Faith has a loyal customer base, but Vivian is looking to further expand her visibility in Evanston. Vashnav Pandey and Caroline Miller just started working on a business training engagement with Vivian, focusing on bookkeeping practices and expanding the store's marketing to draw in new customers.

Measuring impact with analytics

Over the past several months we have looked deeply into our business training program to better understand the impact we have in the community. We have developed a LEND impact meter, based on metrics relevant to the specific areas covered in each training, in order to identify how much of a difference each engagement has made as well as what aspects of the program can be improved. Our goal is to use this data to provide more effective training to our clients and improve our internal processes in the pursuit of better serving the Evanston community.

Work with LEND

The past year has been one for the record books. We’ve supported local businesses through five new loans totaling $7,600, and provided business development services to four aspiring entrepreneurs. We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished, but there's potential to do so much more.  Reach out to us at lend@u.northwestern.edu to start a conversation on how we can work together.  



Jan 27, 2014

Forging Partnerships, Preparing for the Future

The 2013-2014 LEND Team
The 2013-2014 LEND Team

To our supporters:

Exciting developments are in the works at LEND, as the organization continues to institutionalize and build its capacity to sustain long-term impact in the local community. Currently, we are establishing partnerships with local corporations to leverage common resources and harness potential from untapped networks. Such partnerships will also build our capital base and capacity to lend to more entrepreneurs, allowing LEND to greatly enhance its impact.

From an internal standpoint, LEND recruited more passionate individuals to our staff in the past quarter.This reflects the organization's readiness to expand and increase its local footprint. The coming months present a leadership transition as members of the outgoing executive team hand off responsibilities to their successors.

As LEND continues to take strides towards achieving our mission, we will increasingly lean on our passionate supporters who help make our work possible. We aspire to work together with you to build a stronger community and provide small business owners with the resources to ultimately develop a more robust local economy. Your donations help make this possible, and for that - thank you.

Please feel free to contact us at lend@u.northwestern.edu -- we would love to hear from you!

As always, we greatly appreciate your enduring support.

Best regards,

Gaurav Kikani



Oct 22, 2013

Developments at LEND

LEND staff working with a local restaurant
LEND staff working with a local restaurant

To our supporters:

Last year, LEND grew at an exciting rate, disbursing $15,000 in microloans and working with over 10 new businesses through our Business Training Program. Our all-time lending has now exceeded the $27,000 mark, and we hope to surpass this figure in the upcoming years.

As we resume our operations after the summer hiatus, we anticipate an immediate demand for our services. We are currently working with 4 new local businesses and have identified over $12,000 in lending opportunities. These businesses range from a pet day-care to bakeries, attesting to the vibrant and unique small business environment in Evanston.

LEND also is in the process of incorporating as a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization, independent of Northwestern University. We are hoping to secure this legal status by the end of the school year. This change will allow us to garner more institutional support and operate with more autonomy. While strategic guidance will be derived from our Board of Directors, LEND will continue to be operated by Northwestern students, with our mission and vision unchanged.

Entrepreneurs are requesting loans at an unprecedented rate, and we want to be able to meet their needs. However, we must continue to grow our capital base - and for that, we look to you, our supporters! Our capacity to lend must grow lockstep with demand, as we want to be equipped to support every passionate entrepreneur we encounter.

Support small business owners, help LEND grow, and become part of the microfinance movement that is sweeping across the nation. We believe change begins at a micro-level, and your contributions are vital to catalyzing that change.

Please feel free to contact us at lend@u.northwestern.edu -- we would love to hear from you!

As always, we deeply appreciate your enduring support.

Best regards,

Gaurav Kikani


Jul 25, 2013

LEND Spring 2013 News


Ellen King opens Hewn Bakery on Dempster, city officials attend

After months of meticulous preparation and high anticipation, LEND client Ellen King opened the wooden doors of Hewn Bakery the morning of June 11.  City officials and friends gathered at the storefront on Dempster Street to sample freshly baked chunks of Ellen’s artisan bread, which her staff hand-mixes, hand-shapes, and naturally ferments daily without the use of any preservatives, chemicals or additives.  In addition to specialty breads, the shop also offers salads and sandwiches based on seasonal vegetables and grains.  

This past year prior to opening, LEND members Salil, Gaurav and Jang worked extensively with Ellen to weigh options before she made the ambitious decision to operate a physical storefront for her baked goods business.  Together, LEND and Ellen explored the risks and costs of opening and financing a venture like Hewn. 

Now, less than two months after its ribbon cutting, Hewn has experienced incredible success as Evanston locals embrace its craftsman’s approach to a traditional staple and philosophy of healthy eating.  With a growing base of neighborhood regulars, Hewn is already making a name for itself in the community, and LEND coulldn't be prouder.

Hewn is located at 810 Dempster St.  Check out Ellen's website and Facebook page to learn more about her story and approach to bread.

Courtesy of evanstonnow.com

Courtesy of hewnbread.com


With two new loans, LEND approaches all-time $30,000 lending mark

Less than three months after clearing the $20,000 benchmark in loans to Evanston businesses, LEND has expanded its microlending program to support a local dog care & boarding business and an Evanston-based therapist.

Rex’s Place provides day care, boarding and training services to lucky canines in the North Shore area with over 11,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor play areas. Owner Kathy Lichtenstein is using her microloan to upgrade the facilities to keep her furry customers comfortable in the hot summer months!

Therapist Mary Jackson’s microloan will help her expand the geographical range of her services, as well as her operating hours.

LEND works with popular new Downtown Evanston restaurant Aguas Tortas

LEND staff member Jang Kim works with Juan Jimenez, owner ofAguas Tortas, a six-month-old restuarant in Evanston already known for its authentic Mexican cuisine and welcoming atmosphere.

An experienced restuarateur, Juan invited LEND to take a look at his business model to gain fresh perspective on his cost structuring and profitability.  And of course, LEND staff learned a lot working with a veteran of the food industry!


LEND welcomes three new staff members!

As a few members graduated this past June, LEND invited three promising new members to grow the team into the 2013-2014 academic year.

From left, David Kim (2016), Victoria Chi (2016) and Chris Harlow (2016), bring bright personalities and the versatility to span roles and operations within the organization. They are currently undergoing rigourous staff training in client relations and lending, and will begin working alongside veteran staff members at client meetings in the fall.

We are excited to have such dynamic team players on board and look forward to immersing them in LEND's unique culture and mission in their next three years as undergraduates.


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Project Leader

Ashley Augustine

Evanston, IL United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Microfinance for Low-Income Entrepreneurs in U.S.