February Speaker Event

Microfinance for Student Loans: Giving Youth a Little Credit!

– Thursday, February 24th –

The next SVMN Speaker Event on Thursday, February 24th at Blum Hall on the UC Berkeley campus feature Kushal Chakrabarti (Co-Founder & CEO, Vittana), Ben Elberger (Regional Director, Kiva) and Noga Leviner (Executive Director, Lumni USA), as they discuss the challenges, successes and future landscape of the new frontier of harnessing microfinance for students loans, both in the US and abroad.

Industry leaders are leveraging debt and equity-like investments as well as P2P lending models to provide youth (both in the US and abroad) with the tools necessary to pursue higher education. As a result, the student-loan market has experienced explosive growth.  SVMN is proud to present this unique opportunity to hear the nation’s leaders talk about the rise of using microloans for education and answer your questions. We look forward to seeing you there!

Register early! Online registration closes the day of the event. At-the-door admission is $10 more. Tickets are limited!

When: Thursday, February 24th

6:30-7:00 — Sign-in, dinner, networking
7:00-7:50 — Intros and speaker presentations
7:50-8:15 — Q&A
8:15-8:30 – Networking


Blum Hall (Across Hearst St. from Ectheverry Hall)
UC Berkeley Campus
2521 Hearst Ave Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94709


in advance: $20 regular attendee | $10 students & non-profits (w/ ID)
at the door: $30 regular attendee | $20 students & non-profits (w/ ID)
(includes food + drinks)

Speaker Bios

Kushal Chakrabarti, Co-Founder & CEO Vittana

As the son of first-generation immigrants, Kushal knows first-hand the importance of education and its power to change lives. He owes everything to a few teachers and mentors who believed in him and took a risk on him when he was younger. Previously, Kushal led technical strategy, design and development for the multi-hundred million dollar personalized recommendations system at Amazon.com and, before that, was a research scientist working in artificial intelligence and computational biology. He has authored over 20 patents, talks and peer-reviewed articles over his career.

Kushal graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a B.S. in computer science and a B.A. in molecular biology. What gets him up every morning is the knowledge that although there’s a lot about the world he can’t change, he can help make a difference about this.

Ben Elberger, Regional Director, Kiva

As Regional Director, Ben is responsible for setting strategy in Anglophone Africa and South Asia, managing field-based staff, and conducting due diligence on potential MFI partners. Based in San Francisco, Ben contributes to Kiva’s risk management framework, assists in building out Kiva’s evolving internal portfolio systems, and is spearheading efforts to enter and expand in key South Asian markets. Ben was previously a Microfinance Partnerships Manager and Microfinance Partnerships Coordinator with Kiva joining the team in early 2006. Prior to Kiva, Ben was a research assistant at the Center for Global Development where he worked with research fellows investigating the impact of International Monetary Fund programs on developing country health spending and on the political dynamics of the global health agenda. He has published on topics in international development and microfinance. Ben is a graduate of Stanford University with a degree in Public Policy and, despite being a native New Yorker, loves California.

Noga Leviner, Executive Director, Lumni USA

Noga brought Lumni to the United States in 2008 and has led the company through its startup phase including legal and operational design, setting strategic direction, fundraising and business development, and testing the concept pilot. She previously worked as a Program Manager for Ashoka where she headed the organization’s 60-country impact assessment program, conducted due diligence on the work of social entrepreneurs, and led or co-led the launch of a series of programs to identify and support social entrepreneurs including those pursuing financial services innovations. She holds a B.A. from Stanford University.

Parking Info:

Blum Hall is located about 100 yards past Euclid Avenue on the south side of Hearst Avenue, across Etcheverry Hall, at the north-east end of UC Berkeley’s campus.  The closes parking structure to Blum Hall is the Upper Hearst Lot.


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