UAF Kiva team lends helping hand through microfinance loans

Ian Larsen/Sun Star Reporter
Feb. 14, 2012

On Friday, Feb 10, University Chancellor Brian Rogers discussed his many years of micro-investing in the Kiva organization. Chancellor Rogers is one of the organization's biggest investors. Erin McGroarty/ Sun Star.

Some time ago, six students from Sherri Wall’s economics course for honors students gave hope to small business owners across the world.

In order to receive honors credit for the course, the six students came up with a project exploring the idea of microloans.

Their project consisted of a two-day bake sale. They raised $150, which they invested into Kiva loans.

Kiva is a nonprofit organization that microfinances small business owners. They loan as little as $25 to single people or groups who wish to start a small business in third-world countries.

“Essentially Kiva Lending includes people who are not able to lend large amounts, and helps people feel like they are a part of something,” UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers said.

Since 2005, Kiva has accumulated 689,246 lenders and $284 million in loans, with nearly a 99 percent repayment rate throughout 61 countries.

With the original $150, the students were able to disburse six loans. While researching Kiva Lending, UAF biology student Heather Currey learned about Kiva teams. 

“The UAF Team was a secondary thought to the experiment,” Currey said. “While investigating the process of making a Kiva loan, I discovered ‘teams’ and that other universities, including UAA, have created teams.”

In light of learning about university teams, Currey created a team for UAF. The University of Alaska Fairbanks team is moderated by Currey and currently includes eight members.

The UAF team is in the top three universities that micro-finance, according to the Kiva website.

By putting the interest back into Kiva from the original six loans, the UAF honors group increased its loan amount substantially.

The group consists of seven members. The team has made 1,016 loanstotaling $50,075.

The team’s top contributor of loans is UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers.

“I’ve been lending in Kiva for six years now, before the students started their project, or they started the UAF team,” Rogers said. “I’ve funded about 5,000 loans with a 99 percent repayment rate.”

There are also many different small businesses in need of these microloans. These small business dreams span the gambit from health care, retail, food-related businesses and other services.

“I normally try to lend money to health care businesses,” Rogers said. “But I have helped out all kinds of businesses, food stalls, retail stores, even a taxi service in Mongolia.”

All the information and lending can be found at the click of a button on the Kiva website, “Anyone can join the team and make loans through the team,” Currey said. “It’s a fairly self contained and automated system. It’s quite easy to use.”

With a user-friendly website and only $25 needed to help fulfill a loan, Kiva’s microlending is a simple and inexpensive way to show the Golden Heart City spirit and aid a fellow person in need. 

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