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BSU Kiva Team Making a Difference

Sara Wielenberg | Staff Writer | 2-16-2012

BSU’s Excellence in Leadership Center (ELC) started a team on January 24th for the nonprofit loan organization Kiva.

Kiva provides loans for people around the world by taking in money from donors for specific loans. The organization then works with a trustworthy bank local to the borrower to distribute the loan. The interest is paid to the bank, while the principle is paid back to the individuals who contributed. When a contributor is repaid, they can then reinvest that Kiva credit into another loan, donate it to Kiva, or take it back out of the system and return it to their own bank account.

Kiva allows for individuals to donate as little as $25 to a loan request, and the donation process is similar to online purchasing, which makes it simple. A donor can select the loans they contribute to by categories such as country, loan status, and sector according to what they requested a loan for. The Kiva website provides a picture and profile of the loan seeker, and repayment usually takes about a year and a half.

Because the loans are backed by Kiva rather than the bank, borrowers receive loans that they may not otherwise get and often have lower interest rates on the loan. So far, Kiva has supplied over $200 million in loans with a 98.88% repayment rate. Most of the individuals and groups seeking loans are in Africa and Central and South America. Some of the loan requests are as little $250.

Seamus Glewwe of the ELC is playing a large role in getting BSU’s Kiva team up and running. Right now the BSU team consists of nine members. At present, the team members are donating as individuals, although there is no requirement to donate if one joins the team. There are posters up on bulletin boards around campus in hopes that the BSU team will gain more of a presence.

Individuals on the team have donated, and Glewwe even got to complete a loan by contributing the last $25 needed. According to Glewwe, when the team reaches 15 to 20 contributing members, then they will look into a loan that the BSU team would fund completely by themselves. “As a group, we could do a bigger thing than an individual can,” Glewwe says.

The ELC tries to find ways of getting students involved in the larger community. Often, students choose not to volunteer for things because of the time and commitment it takes.

One of the appeals of Kiva donation is that it takes minutes to make a difference. Another appeal is how little it takes to help. According to Glewwe, “It’s one Domino’s pizza in a month that you’re not getting.”

The ELC looked at several sites similar to Kiva last semester, but settled on Kiva and formed the beginnings of the BSU team on January 24th. Many colleges and universities have teams of their own, including Stanford, University of Minnesota, Harvard, Concordia College, and many others. Joining the BSU team is as simple as going to kiva.org/team/bsu and clicking “Join Team,” or simply searching for the BSU team on Kiva’s community team listing.

“The team is for anyone that feels a connection to the BSU community, faculty, students. My mother joined the team,” Glewwe says.

The BSU Kiva team is a way for BSU students to contribute to the global community without spending much time, energy, or money, three things that college students always seem to be short on. Glewwe says, “It’s a really easy way to make a huge difference in someone’s life.”