Westborough student investors support small businesses, entrepreneurs

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By Dakota Antelman, Managing Editor

Westborough student investors support small businesses, entrepreneurs
Members of the Westborough High School Microbank pose for a photo after a fundraiser at Westborough’s Homecoming festival last month.

WESTBOROUGH – A group of Westborough teens are giving entrepreneurs around the world a boost through the practice of microfinancing. 

Now, the same group has partnered with the Westborough Economic Development Committee (EDC) to consider ways to support local businesses.

“We’ve seen a pretty good amount of results,” said Nigel Jayavendra in a recent interview.

Microbank supports entrepreneurs

Jayavendra is the president of the Westborough High School Microbank. He’s joined on the group’s leadership team by Vice President Rohan Bettadpur, Treasurer Sean Tam and Secretary Amir Hameed. 

The group also includes roughly 20 consistent members who help hold fundraisers and distribute proceeds into viable investment opportunities.

Once it selects ventures to invest in, the Microbank uses a third party service known as Kiva to manage transactions and collect repayments on loans to entrepreneurs who might not otherwise have access to credit. 

The Microbank currently has a portfolio of roughly $2,000 spread across three investments in Ghana and Rwanda. Loans are low interest. In some cases, they’re made with zero interest.

Microbank partners with Westborough EDC

Building up the Microbank, the group has recently begun working with the Westborough Economic Development Coordinator Zach Boughner on ways to expand with more lending in Westborough itself. 

That interest in helping local businesses, Jayavendra said, has grown after seeing the impact of COVID-19.

“We saw the potential for having small loans that don’t have the kind of constraints that [loans from] a traditional bank would have,” he said. 

The microbank is specifically looking to get involved in the EDC’s business accelerator program, among other things, to help support businesses in town.

Leadership eyes future

Each of the individuals on the Westborough High School Microbank’s leadership team are seniors, this year. 

As such, those members are eying the future of a group that they’ll soon hand off to classmates. 

They’re working on drafting a constitution to govern the club and have expressed interest in partnering with an outside financial expert to advise future students. 

They want this program to continue into the future and are excited at their prospects of making that happen.  

“Even though it’s like a small group of people, we’ve been able to do a lot of work within the community as well as the global community,” Jayavendra said. 

Learn more about the Microbank at https://sites.google.com/student.westboroughk12.org/whs-clubpedia/whs-clubs/whs-microbank