Photo by Nick Romanenko

The Intersect Fund grew out of a desire to bring the campus to the community. When Rohan Mathew and Joe Shure were editors at The Daily Targum — Rutgers University’s student-run newspaper — they saw two sides of New Brunswick, N.J. 

While new hotels, restaurants and high-rise apartments dot the skyline, there are also a lot of low-income residents struggling to make ends meet. These are often the busboys and dishwashers in the upscale businesses downtown, but they had little to show for the economic revitalization they helped bring about. They were immigrants working in factories through temp agencies, longtime residents left unemployed by recession, and a host of others who have the drive but lack the luck to succeed.

In thinking about how university students could help these people, Mathew and Shure found that many of them run small businesses on the side as a way to generate extra income. It became clear that although many of these low-income entrepreneurs have quality business ideas and a lot of motivation, they often lack the business knowledge and seed capital they to get the most out of their enterprises.