By Alyssa Lusky — Co-Editor-In-Chief
For an entrepreneur, few experiences are more important than gaining skills by working with an organization. Nancy Waldron, Chair of Marketing and Management and Associate Professor of Marketing, realized this in 2007 while watching a documentary called, “Uganda: A Little Goes a Long Way,” which focused on a nonprofit organization called Kiva.
Founded in 2005, Kiva allows individuals to lend as little as $25 to microfinance institutions, which in turn, loans the money to individuals in third world and developing countries that are looking to start businesses.
“If people can start a business, they can sell more of their products,” said Waldron. This theory is important to developing countries, according to Waldron. She brought this concept to classes in 2008 and started getting students involved with BUS231. Students start with about $125 for the semester and choose individuals in developing countries they wish to loan money to.
Waldron taught the class for the first couple of years, and it has been offered since the spring of 2008. This semester, Carol Emanuelson, Lecturer, has taken over the class.
To date, Lasell has made 19 loans, which is two times as many as the average Kiva participant. Recent loans have gone to small business owners in Cambodia, Guatemala, Tajikistan, Jordan, Bolivia, Ghana, and Lebanon, with a total of $550 being lent, $423.74 repaid, and six small business owners currently in the process of paying back their loans.
“[Students] understand not only what life is like in these countries, but how important entrepreneurship is,” said Waldron. Students work in small groups as they track the progress of the loans throughout the semester.
“I have emphasized the importance of social responsibility in business and Kiva is one way to show that the world is more than our immediate surroundings,” said Emanuelson.
Social responsibility was a founding principal Waldron wanted students to take away from the experience. Along with learning about raising funds, the challenge of paying back, and having a strong understanding of money, students are experiencing their field first hand.
“These micro loans of a few hundred dollars are so important to the growth of the businesses that it makes you appreciate the underlying framework of entrepreneurship,” said student Tim Woodard. “Seeing the difference simply adding a machine or diversifying inventory makes to a small business is incredible, and I hope to one day operate in a similar fashion, yet on a much grander scale.”