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Small loans funding big dreams around the world

Written on April 8th, 2011

The smallest loan can make a difference in the life of an entrepreneur in a marginalized corner of the globe. Students at Guelph Community Christian School (GCCS) are making that difference and learning about finance, geography and the value of giving at the same time.

Principal Bob Moore had a discussion last year with one of the school’s parents about KIVA, a California-based non-profit microfinance organization that to date has helped more than 530,000 entrepreneurs in 59 countries get projects off the ground.

This organization isn’t a charity. Approximately 98 per cent of all loans are repaid and the business operations they fund represent the hope of economic betterment for the people connected to them.

The parent decided he would fund the school directly so each class could then use the money to fund the projects of their choice.

A fisherman in Cambodia; a dairy farmer in Kenya; a construction supply operation in the Philippines; these are three of the 12 projects funded through the school’s KIVA connection.

Moore introduced the concept of international development to each of the classes and discussed how corruption and government bureaucracy can make it difficult for traditional aid to help those in need.

“KIVA is a grassroots movement,” he then explained, “that would make sure that the money got to where it needed to go and could really change someone’s life for very little money.”

He says that despite the complexity of the root causes that contribute to need in parts of the world, the children were able to grasp how their contributions could help. By relating these business ventures through KIVA to the entrepreneurial spirit of many GCCS parents, the children could see the connections.

“I talked in terms of buying a sewing machine and painted the picture for them,” he says.

“What would it mean if somebody got $25 to buy a sewing machine and then they got busy and had to buy another sewing machine, and then got busier and had to buy a bicycle and hire someone to go around and deliver the shirts that they were sewing?”

He says the program is another tool for teaching children to give of themselves to make a difference in the world, something Moore says is a cornerstone of a Christian education.