This is the second in a series of three blog posts from each of the CommonBond borrowers joining us on our trip to Ghana with Pencils of Promise. We asked each of them to write about why they are excited about the trip and what they are looking forward to.
Harvard Business School, Class of 2015
What She's Bringing on the Plane
Lots of vegetarian snacks
I got a loan from CommonBond to pay for business school. I went to get my MBA because my undergrad studies and four years working in non-profit consulting had disenchanted me with most non-market-driven models for giving aid. I'm passionate about finding ways to address social problems that are primarily financially self-sustaining. I don't want services to the poor to be dependent on outside funding, and I didn't like how much time and resources non-profits had to funnel away from mission-oriented work to fundraise.
CommonBond is an example of a highly functioning social enterprise helping students find less expensive loans to finance their education. It certainly helped me pay for grad school, and helped me to not optimize for salary after school! While I personally have benefited from CommonBond's model, it is the company's commitment to giving back which I find the most interesting.
The "buy one, give one" model is increasingly popular in the social enterprise world. While I don't believe in giving away commodity items which displace local jobs (e.g., TOMS Shoes), I find the concept of donating funds to a non-profit in the same space compelling. I would love to see Pencil of Promise's work on the ground, better understand how CommonBond identified this partner organization, and assess the immediate impact the funding is having in Ghana. As I think about starting my own social enterprise, these learnings will help me come up with a better business model.