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Students give loans to entrepreneurs in Jamaica

March 14, 2016 Tags: Business and Communications , Community Engagement and Outreach , Study Abroad

JIMI Spring Break 2016_1InTextStudents from the Saint Francis University School of Business recently traveled to the impoverished villages of Lionel Town and Maggotty, Jamaica for a mission trip. The students met with aspiring entrepreneurs about economic development and provided business assistance and microloans to interested people in the town through the University’s own Jamaican International Microloan Initiative (JIMI).

The students include Kilee Bomgardner of Hershey, Pa., John Hazenstab of Altoona, Pa., David Budash of Indiana, Pa. and Brooklynne Summers of Roaring Spring, Pa.

While in Jamaica, the students met with nearly 100 applicants and were able to give loans to 18 entrepreneurs. The loans ranged from $10,000 to $80,000 Jamaican dollars, the equivalent of about $85-$675 USD. The loan recipients were not charged interest and have 6-12 months to repay the loan.

This is the fourth year for the JIMI program at Saint Francis University. Since its inception, over $18,600 USD, or $2.1 million Jamaican dollars, has been lent to entrepreneurs in Jamaica, and a total of 74 entrepreneurs have been directly and indirectly impacted from JIMI. Since 2013, the loan repayment rate has been calculated at 92 percent.

This year, the largest loan in the amount of $675 USD was given to a woman named Kerry-Ann, a previous loan recipient. Kerry-Ann used the first loan to purchase a freezer to begin selling frozen foods in her grocery and liquor shop. After seeing great success with her first loan, she applied for a loan to purchase animal feed, fertilizer, and similar items to add more variety to the product offerings in her store.

JIMI Spring Break 2016_2InText“It is very humbling to see how appreciative, trusting, and joyful the people of Jamaica are,” Bomgardner said. “Even though this was my fourth year being a part of JIMI, I learn more and more about myself each year. I realized that it is possible to make a positive impact on someone’s life. This experience is truly life-changing.”

The Jamaican International Microloan Initiative is a joint effort between the University’s Enactus team and Hugs United mission trip organization. Students will be fundraising throughout the year so they are able to offer more loans to the people of Jamaica during next year’s spring break mission trip.

If you are interested in donating to JIMI or have any questions, please contact Lisa Georgiana at