Learning to Lend with Social Impact

This post was written by second year student, Jacqueline Westley.  Jacqueline interned this summer at RSF Social Finance with the support of CASE’s Summer Internship Fund (learn more about SIF at the bottom on this post!). RSF is a non-profit financial services organization that provides capital to non-profit and for-profit social enterprises addressing issues in food & agriculture, education & the arts, and ecological stewardship.

My summer internship at RSF Social Finance in San Francisco was a very valuable experience.  This internship is very closely aligned with my career goal of using finance to bring about positive social change in the world.

Before coming to Fuqua, I had some exposure to microfinance and was very attracted to it as an innovative poverty alleviation tool.  However, I wanted to find a way to use some of the same ideas behind microfinance – providing financing for small businesses that would have a positive impact on the world – closer to home.  I was very fortunate to be able to do just that this summer at RSF.

I worked with the Lending Team doing credit analysis of potential and current borrowers.  I conducted due diligence on borrowers, assessing their financial situation and collateral.  I also participated in calls to check in on current borrowers, provide guidance and helpful suggestions and also ask some tough questions.  Additionally, I participated in several calls and meetings with potential borrowers – assessing their business plans as well as their mission fit with the organization.

Culminating my summer, I presented credit memoranda to the credit committee – one current borrower doing a loan rollover and one potential borrower.  Credit committee was my favorite part of the experience because of the interesting debates about every aspect of an organization’s business plan, financial statements, loan structure, and mission alignment.  Each member of the committee brought a different perspective and the conversations were always interesting – opening me to new ways of thinking about businesses and loan structures.

One of my favorite aspects of the internship was the valuable feedback and advice I received from my supervisor, Kevin, as well as almost everyone at RSF.  Kevin worked closely with me to ensure I knew how to perform credit analysis and to provide some accounting refreshers.  He had previously worked at a major financial institution in New York, so he had a lot of perspective on the financial services industry and social finance.  He was a truly excellent supervisor.  Additionally, I enjoyed getting to know other members of the Lending Team, Philanthropic Services, Impact Investing and Mezzanine Fund, among other groups as well.  Everyone was incredibly friendly, warm, and welcoming.  Particularly striking was how passionate each person at the organization was about the social mission, from the CEO to the systems administrator to the administrative assistant.  I really enjoyed this unifying energy and enthusiasm around a social mission.

I am very appreciative of the Summer Internship Fund and my classmate’s generosity in donating to SIF.  Through SIF, I was able to break-even for the summer.  Being a non-profit, RSF could not afford to pay me very much and the cost of living in San Francisco in addition to the plane ticket to the West Coast was very expensive.  The SIF grant bridged this gap, allowing me to have this valuable internship experience for the summer.

The Summer Internship Fund (SIF) enables first year Duke MBA-Daytime students to learn about the rewards and challenges of social sector management without making a significant financial sacrifice. In addition, the program enables organizations that otherwise could not afford to hire MBA student interns to benefit from students’ expertise.  The SIF has supported more than 130 students, distributed more than $400,000, and helped to further the mission of many nonprofit and government organizations. Funds are raised through student fundraising and from donors who believe in the mission of the program.  If you would like to contribute, you can donate online using your credit card.