Failing schools, high crime rates and neighborhoods dependent on government assistance led Tulane sophomore Haley Burns to start Fund 17, a nonprofit microfinance institution that provides financial education and empowerment throughout the 17 wards of New Orleans.
Juan Carlos Monterrey and Haley Burns are the force behind Fund 17, a nonprofit microfinance institution started by Tulane students. (Photo by Paula Burch Celentano)
Burns, founder and executive director of Fund 17
, says the organization offers educational seminars on personal finance and provides microloans to low-income entrepreneurs.
Soon after starting the organization, Burns partnered with another Tulane student, senior Juan Carlos Monterrey, who now serves as Fund 17’s associate director.
Burns says the partnership is a perfect match.
“I didn’t know that much about him except that he has a lot of connections, and he is also an international development major,” said Burns. “It has clicked, and our ideas just flow.”
Currently, Fund 17 is run by six volunteer students. Their goal is to expand into the Tulane community and start a student organization called Club 17. The institution also hopes to raise $5,000 through their fundraising campaign by April 17 to assist with the organization’s loan pool.
According to Monterrey, there are good microfinance institutions in New Orleans, but there is one thing that sets Fund 17 apart from the rest.
“Other microfinance institutions are not serving the lowest income people,” he said. “We want to serve the people in the lowest bracket of the income scheme.”
The two international development students spend a minimum of eight to 10 hours each week running Fund 17. As they both pointed out, however, this workload decreases significantly during finals week.
Greg Thompson is a Tulane sophomore studying communication.