News and Events
Palmer Center Hosts Reception to Launch Microfinance Program in Conjunction with the Union Rescue Mission
The School of Law's Geoffrey H. Palmer Center for Entrepreneurship and the Law at Pepperdine held a reception on December 15 to officially launch the new microfinance program in partnership with the Los Angeles Union Rescue Mission.
Provost Darryl Tippens welcomed guests, and Andrei Duta, the Palmer Center's Entrepreneur-In-Residence and director of the Microfinance Program, spoke about the background of the new initiative and Pepperdine's collaboration with the Union Rescue Mission. The reception also introduced eight residents of the Union Rescue Mission who were among the program’s first entrepreneurs-in-training and who began the program with initiatives in a variety of industries.
“I really enjoyed seeing each of the entrepreneurs get up to tell a little bit about their business and themselves,” says Meghan Milloy, JD candidate (’12) at the School of Law. “We also surprised each entrepreneur with a laptop of their own. Owning a laptop is essential to being able to run one's own business—especially for those entrepreneurs who have chosen to run an Internet business—and for many, this was the first time they had owned a computer of their own. It was amazing to see the wheels start turning in their heads once they received these computers as to what their next steps would be and how exactly they would use this gift to better their business.”
The entrepreneurs received 12 weeks of training through the Palmer Center before their business plans were deemed feasible, and they received support for their initiatives through microfinance loans that will help jumpstart their entrepreneurial efforts. The loans are funded by community members through a website where borrowers' profiles and business plans are posted for review by potential lenders. Borrowers have one year within which to repay their loans.
Vern Raburn, a successful entrepreneur and senior executive in the information technology and aviation industries, gave the keynote address at the launch, sharing his journey of entrepreneurship and offering words of wisdom to the new, budding entrepreneurs. A key figure in transportation aviation, Raburn was the driving force behind the creation of the "very light jet" (VLJ) concept that he pioneered as founder of Eclipse Aviation Corporation in 1998.
“The launch was a booming success, and I think it is a sign of things to come,” adds Milloy. “There was a lot of excitement in the audience and in the community as a whole. There is a lot of prospective funding for the program on the horizon, and we will start with a new batch of entrepreneurs and champions in the spring, though the current entrepreneurs and champions will stay connected as they start their businesses. Some mistakes were made, but we learned a lot over the past several months, and we are looking forward to a bigger, better Palmer Center Microfinance Program next semester and in the semesters and years to come.”
One of the largest rescue missions of its kind in America and the oldest in Los Angeles, the Union Rescue Mission is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving men, women, and children experiencing homelessness. URM is also host to the Pepperdine Legal Aid and Family Law Clinics in addition to partnering with the Microfinance Program.
The Palmer Center, endowed by 1975 law alumnus Geoffrey H. Palmer, is designed to prepare students for the heightened demands and unique opportunities in such areas as business, entertainment law, securities regulation, and intellectual property rights. With a diverse curriculum, the center offers a multidisciplinary certificate program that integrates the study of law and business, preparing each student to be a hybrid of lawyer, business consultant, and financial strategist.
For more information, visit the Geoffrey H. Palmer Center for Entrepreneurship and the Law website.