Beyond Loans: HMFI’s Group Financial Coaching
Featuring Anjali Kapadia, Financial Coach
By Bobby Pedersen (MSB ’21)
As an organization seeking to empower D.C.’s small business owners, the Hilltop Microfinance Initiative (HMFI) does much more than just give small business loans. Another service our organization provides is Group Financial Coaching (GFC) – a series of modules aimed at guiding clients through the basics of financial systems. From opening a bank account to avoiding predatory financing, the importance of GFC’s lessons cannot be understated. Earlier this week, I was able to talk with Anjali Kapadia, a current member of both the Marketing and GFC Departments, about her experience thus far.
GFC’s work is unique from other financial coaching services in that it is tailored to HMFI’s client community. As Anjali noted in our conversation, GFC is designed for small business owners who may not have much financial experience. Further, noting the diverse demographic of our clients, GFC has adapted to overcome the language barrier often hampering financial coaching services. Knowing your clients is pivotal for any business or service – a concept GFC and HMFI as a whole have prioritized. Anjali further commented on the array of modules and topics that GFC touches upon. While certainly covering the basics of opening bank accounts and obtaining credit cards, GFC goes further in teaching how to build credit and deal with any debt a business may incur. GFC is constantly adapting to better serve its clients, as seen in the array of services it offers today.
On a more personal note, Anjali frequently spoke of how much she has grown and learned from working with GFC. As HMFI’s fastest growing service, GFC has afforded Anjali the opportunity to meet many new people benefiting from our organization’s services and see how our day to day operations positively affect the lives of these clients. She mentioned that connecting with these clients and learning about their businesses has given her insight into their lives and realities of their situations, an eye-opening experience. Leading GFC sessions has also given Anjali an outlet to practice practical skills. In order to teach about the banking system, she has learned greatly herself. Further, presenting this info before dozens of clients has sharpened her public speaking and presentation skills. As evidenced by Anjali, GFC’s impact is mutual; clients learn greatly about the financial system, while we learn more about our clients and their businesses.
Reception for GFC’s modules has been excellent. In an effort to respond to client feedback, GFC has incorporated more modules into presentations, and has had largely positive responses. Looking forward, Anjali hopes to see more organization involvement with GFC, including the idea of having other departments teach a module once a semester, similar to HMFI’s current outreach requirement, in which every person in the organization is required to attend at least one community outreach event, such as visiting small business expos or food festivals, per semester to meet potential clients and engage with the communities that we work with. Further, Anjali hopes to expand sessions to the interests of young people, such as high schoolers. With many small businesses being founded by younger D.C. residents, Anjali sees this as a huge opportunity for impact.
GFC is HMFI’s most popular service, with an invaluable impact. Not only do department members share pivotal financial lessons with clients, but they also get an inside look at the realities of our clients. GFC’s modules have grown to share expanded information to guide small business owners through the financial system. With over 300 clients served, GFC has a huge impact on our clients and the D.C. community as a whole.