We’re looking for a Microlending Manager!

ASSETS is currently looking for the following:

Microlending Manager:
The Microlending Manager oversees the Lending Circles program which provides small loans ($600-$5,000) to entrepreneurs who would struggle to access capital elsewhere. Additionally, a major emphasis of the program is improving the credit scores of the borrowers so that they can more easily access business financing in the future. The Lending Manager will primarily be responsible for the expansion of this program.

To apply send cover letter, résumé, and salary requirements to jobs@assetsPA.org Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Those invited to interview will be contacted.  No phone calls.  EOE

Job Description (PDF): Microlending Manager 2016

We can make a difference…

I was inspired by my 9-year-old daughter this week, who after participating in the People’s Climate March in NYC on Sunday, made lists of things her school and church can do to help stop global warming. One of our friends who was there is sharing her list and others with Representative Joe Pitts in a meeting tomorrow. If my 9-year-old can make a list, so can I! To me, choices around economic development and poverty alleviation run hand in hand with environmental stewardship. Our choices and actions matter! I was amazed by the power of 400,000 people marching in Manhattan, with millions more around the world, standing up for macro AND micro policies and practices that help people AND planet.

1. live close to work so walking and biking or public transit are the best options

2. have only one family car if necessary and make sure it is a hybrid or electric vehicle

3. insulate and weatherproof 100-year old house and use high efficiency wood stove

4. grow some of our own food

5. shop locally

6. compost – keep biodegradable things out of the landfill where they turn into methane – 25x worse than CO2

7. recycle EVERYTHING and put as little as possible into landfill at work and at home

8. avoid flying as much as possible

9. when furnace and water heater need to be replaced – explore solar hot water + high efficiency boilers

10. switch electric source to renewables on PPL bill (easy to do since deregulation!)

11. consume less – purchase used items or high quality new items and have fewer things

12. align vocational goals with sustainability – choose careers that make a difference in the world and support others in doing the same

13. support businesses that do business differently – that support social and environmental impact

14. vote for elected officials who share these beliefs over fossil fuel interests and who enact policies in the interest of the PUBLIC GOOD

15. divest from the stock market and invest locally instead; public companies first and foremost goals are quick PROFIT, which most often in the context of quarterly reporting and stock price values, comes at a high environmental or social cost

16. don’t wash clothing as frequently to save on water and electric usage and air dry it

17. reduce household electricity use every day

18. explore solar panels to provide household electricity

19. educate children about how their choices affect the climate

Social Enterprise from the eyes of our Program Director Jonathan Coleman

Jonathan Coleman

The first 5 years of my career were spent working for an international non-profit, operating very much from the traditional charity mindset.  The organization raised funds from wealthy Americans to run child-focused programs, such as schools and orphanages, in poor countries around the world.  The needs we met were stark, and the work was rewarding.  As I gained more experience in this field, however, I began to realize the limitations of the work we were doing.  We were addressing symptoms of enormous problems, rather than the causes of those problems.  Also, the reality was that there simply was not enough donor money to build and run schools for every uneducated child in the world.  Assessing these frustrations led me to ask some serious questions.  Is there another way beyond the age-old charity model for addressing issues of poverty and injustice? How can I be a part of promoting solutions which had the ability to scale at such a level that the structures of oppression and poverty would be shaken at their core?  Finally, is there a way to grow impact without spending all my time seeking more donor dollars?

The search for the answers to these questions led me to Social Enterprise.  Lack of economic opportunity is a primary cause of many social issues, therefore, market-based solutions with a clear focus on specific societal problems work from the inside-out in positively impacting these issues.  Additionally, while charity dollars are always limited, consumer dollars have create infinite possibilities for growth and scale.

This is not to say that the charity-model is unnecessary, at ASSETS Lancaster, we use donor dollars to subsidize a majority of our educational and lending programs because they would otherwise be too expensive for our target market to access.  However, we do strongly believe in creating space for Social Enterprise as a “3rd way” to operate, outside of traditional for-profit/non-profit structures.  Our involvement in social enterprise is meant to catalyze excitement and innovation around business ideas which help address some of the stark social and economic problems present in our community.  That makes me very excited indeed.

Jonathan Coleman


Social Enterprise from the eyes of our Executive Director Jessica King

IMG_5057There is a two-fold way of looking at social enterprise that really motivates me. One is the reality that the systems and structures that exist aren’t up to the tasks at hand around social inequality and environmental degradation. The other, more hopeful part is the vast opportunity to employ creative solutions and new approaches inside business and civil society toward meeting those needs in new ways. I’m thrilled that ASSETS and the Lancaster County Community Foundation are launching The Great Social Enterprise Pitch because Lancaster is a perfect place for this with its deep and successful business history and the needs around us. I’m excited to see what new ideas gain some traction through this process toward a better future!

Jessica King



Microgranting/giving circles

I learned more about microgranting this week – through talking with folks at Awesome Pgh. A group of 10 ‘trustees’ gives $100 per month and collectively decides who to give a $1,000 grant to each month.

I love this idea. In a town with limited philanthropic resources (at least publicly accessible resources like foundations, govt, etc.), this could be a great resource to catalyze creative ideas.

Further thoughts on giving circles: http://janisfoster.blogspot.com/2012/09/hey-giving-circles.html

Shoot me a line if this is something you’re interested in….

Small vs. Big

Came across this post today that merits sharing. Some excerpts:

“In taking on big, you can try to undercut their margins which will fail. You can try to duplicate their advertising budget, which will fail. You can try to out program them, which will fail. Or you can try to outlove them. (I know, it’s business, but at the core of relationship marketing must be relationship, which, at some level, has to be about love.) And the big boxes, whatever their industry: food, church, hardware, furniture, departments, are not fundamentally about outloving anyone.

“I always wanted the biggest box of crayons. It was always a really cool thing to have. But as I think about it now, someone that would have taught me how to color, to actually do something with 8 crayons, that could have changed my life.  I might have moved from being a consumer to an artist.

Big is about consumers. Small is about artists. Big is about changing people to your world. Small is about preparing people to change their world.”


The Kauffman Foundation for Entrepreneurship just released some statistics about entrepreneurship. Very interesting – the numbers for both Latino entrepreneurs and immigrant entrepreneurs has doubled in the past 15 years.

That echoes the direction ASSETS has been heading – to support Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs, immigrants and most recently, refugees.

To read more: http://www.kauffman.org/research-and-policy/kiea-2012-infographic.aspx


Muhummad Yunus

I had the pleasure of hearing Muhummad Yunus at Elizabethtown College last evening.

The 77-year-old Bangladeshi founder of the Grameen Bank spoke about what inspired him to launch microcredit in one of the poorest countries in the world. It feels impossible to recapture the essence of the evening or of the work of Grameen – but the things that inspired me included the willingness to try new things, to ask new questions, and a commitment to eliminating poverty through whatever means made sense.  A few quotes from his talk:

“I started this work because I just wanted to be of use to other human beings in great need and suffering.”

“Banks have it all wrong – they lend money to people with money! They should be lending to people who need money!”

He spoke of a program in Bangladesh where beggars can get 0% loans to buy products to sell as they’re going door to door begging – and they’re paying loans back and getting out of abject poverty.

He asks – “What is the problem you want to solve? Then create a social business to address that issue in a way that doesn’t depend on charitable contributions to make it work.”

“As long as you wear the profit-maximizing glasses, you can’t see all of the possibilities, creativity, technology that you could use to help solve that social problem.”

In regard to limitations of the work of poverty eradication – “it is a question of creativity – human beings have unlimited creative power!”