Microloans connect students to the world Reply

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.”

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