Community Finance Challenge

Finding ways to build a more prosperous America


The challenge: bring small business finance into the 21st century

Deutsche Bank and MIT are teaming up to ask how we can use 21st century technology and thinking to bring innovation to finance and grow our local economies and communities. From Detroit to the Mississippi delta, from Rapid City to rural Tennessee, we want to build organizations that will revitalize our low-income and distressed communities by putting capital to work for all Americans.

We're challenging MBAs and other graduate students to design new organizations capable of using finance to promote local economic growth, address income inequality, and catalyze a more prosperous future for our cities and towns.

Come see what our teams have created and who wins by signing up to attend the finalist presentations on March 9th!


How It Will Work



Teams will envision and lay out a plan for a for-profit or non-profit organization that finances small businesses in local and regional economies. You'll be taking on describing its impact, operations, financing, organizational structure, and partnerships strategy





You can participate in teams of up to five students, with the requirement that at least one team member be enrolled in a Masters of Business Administration program. No previous financial industry or technology experience needed.



Registration will open in mid-November. Teams will be sent the case prompt in early January and will have 3 weeks to prepare a response. 5 finalist teams will come to MIT to make final in-person presentations to our expert industry judges on March 9th


Challenge Timeline

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What's On The Line?


Meaningful impact: Your proposals and solutions will be reviewed by industry leaders eager to find and implement new solutions to the problems facing community lenders in the U.S. Your work has the potential to change the way these organizations run and communities are built.



Strong Connections: You’ll be doing this alongside emerging leaders from across the country. Our finalists will come to Cambridge to meet each other and create connections based on a shared passion for community finance and innovation. We’ll have a full day of presenting and networking between teams and with industry leaders.


Prize Money: You’ll be competing for thousands of dollars in prize money and a chance to present to executives from major investment banks, venture capital firms, and impact investment funds. First place will receive $10,000 for their team, with smaller prizes for 2nd and 3rd place

Our Sponsors

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When does registration open?

November 14th. Registration closes December 14th.


Will there be an entry fee?

There is a $10 per person registration fee. Free Early Bird registration will be available for the first two weeks.


Who can be on teams?

Teams can be up to five people, all of whom must be currently enrolled in an accredited graduate program in the United States. At least one of the team members must be pursuing a Masters of Business Administration.              


Can there be multiple teams from the same school?

Yes! We encourage schools to form multiple teams.


 Do all students need to be from the same school?

No. It’s totally up to you to form your teams so long as they meet the criteria above (no more than five members, all enrolled in graduate programs, and at least one MBA student).


Do teams need a faculty advisor?

No, but we encourage teams to reach out to faculty and other external parties during their research to complete their submission.


Do I need a finance background to participate?

No. We're not looking for extreme innovation in financial instruments - we want teams to think deeply about the concepts and technology our financial institutions can apply to better serve smaller, less well-off communities. Having someone on your team with a familiarity with lending and small business finance could be useful, but it is up to you


What is the format of the competition?

Teams will be asked to submit a written response to the challenge prompt for the first round. This document will be limited to 5 pages (not including appendices). Finalists selected from this first round will be asked to prepare a 10 minute in person presentation. They will come to MIT to present to judges on March 9th.


How many finalists will there be?

We will select 10 finalists to come to MIT to present on March 9th.


What are the prizes?

There will be $10,000 for first place, $3,000 for second place, and $1,000 for third place. All finalists also receive free tickets to the MIT FinTech Conference on March 10th                 


Will I get to meet the sponsor organizations?

All finalists will have a chance to meet our judges (leaders and executives in organizations in the financial innovation space) as well as other finalists at the judging even on March 9th. In addition to MIT and Deutsche Bank, our sponsors include LendingClub, Opportunity Finance Network, CDC Small Business Finance, and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).