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October 18, 2011 > A "Happy Day" for microlending

A "Happy Day" for microlending

By Angie Wang

Happy Day Microfunds (HDmf) is a student run microlending organization, founded by President William Kim, who is currently enrolled as a senior at Mission San Jose High School in Fremont. Aided by Vice President Kunal Shah, Kim's vision is to turn HDmf into a national, if not global, web platform for under-served teenage entrepreneurs to receive funding for various start-up businesses. HDmf uses funds to issue microloans to high school businesspeople in lower-income schools with entrepreneurship curriculum provided by an organization, such as the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE).

The impressive efforts of Kim and his fellow team members were recognized recently by President Obama, who made mention of Kim during a speech at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, D.C.

As president of HDmf, Kim works to create partnerships with other non-profit organizations. Currently, he is working with Mission Asset Fund (MAF) to bring credit and financial services to HDmf entrepreneurs who turn 18 so they can also start building their credit with microloans, without a negative impact on their credit score. Kim is also working with Qeyno, a Bay Area start-up business that developed a career exploration web platform for at-risk Oakland teenage girls, to integrate microlending into their platform, as well as with NFTE/BUILD (entrepreneurship-teaching organizations for at-risk teenagers), to expand HDmf's community outreach.

Kim's success is a result of his efforts as well as those of fellow classmates at MSJHS. Outreach Director Vincent Tian takes charge of fundraising and contacts other high school students to inform them about HDmf events. Sumukh Sridhara is HDmf's webmaster; he not only maintains the website, but also designs entrepreneurs' webpages. Graphics Head, Sarah Ching, manages logo design for entrepreneurs and flyer designs for HDmf; her team, the Creative Panel, consists of Amanda Hong, Richard Ying, and Brian Chen.

"HDmf is able to create a mutually beneficial, symbiotic relationship between both the microlender and the entrepreneur," Kim announces. The microlender, a teenager interested in entrepreneurship, is able to see microlending at work while meeting other entrepreneurial peers outside their immediate community. Teenage entrepreneurs receive capital, both financial as well as personalized business assistance; HDmf provides not only microloans but also assistance in the fields of web design, graphics, marketing, and publicity. "In addition, entrepreneurs are able to meet others who are genuinely interested in their business' success, which, for any entrepreneur, is a godsend," Kim adds.

"I didn't go in knowing I wanted to create a youth microlending organization. I just knew I wanted to get involved in microlending, and I wanted to do something against general poverty. They were really nebulous, naive goals, but they started morphing into something more solid as I talked to friends, family, and myself; I spent a lot of time just talking to myself," he laughed. "And after a while, after lots of web-surfing and reading, I realized there was no way for teens to actually microlend or receive microloans at the time. So my friends and I decided to start Happy Day," Kim concludes. Visit www.happydaymicrofunds.org for more information.

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