At the conference on microlending(from left) Penn Charter junior Ed Doherty, University of Pennsylvania students Brandon Cohen and Vibhav Jagwani, Penn Charter junior Ryan Cohen, David Rose of Sally Blagg, LLC and Alyson Goodner, director of Penn Charter’s Center for Public Purpose.

A group of high school students combined business and real-world experience at the William Penn Charter School Microfinance Inaugural Conference on Feb. 2, a learning opportunity that evolved from Penn Charter’s Microfinance Club.

The two-year-old club has been exploring international and local microfinance, fundraising through school-wide activities and making loans to entrepreneurs through, an international nonprofit that provides financial services to those who can’t access them.

In addition to Penn Charter club members, the conference included students from Plymouth Whitemarsh High School’s Microfinance Club, as well as students from Wissahickon High School and Germantown Academy who are interested in learning more about microfinance.

Students heard from David Rose of Sally Blagg, LLC, about how to connect with and support local businesses in Philadelphia. Rose led an interactive and passionate discussion about the history of Germantown businesses and shared his insights on the significant number of citizens who lack access to capital.

In addition, students heard from Vibhav Jagwani and Brandon Cohen from the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Microfinance Club, who shared their experiences and work at the university level.

The conference concluded with a discussion about a cross-school project to support local entrepreneurs and small businesses in Philadelphia, helping them gather the resources necessary to start and sustain local businesses that will benefit their community.