Math department goes global with Kiva

Morgan Rogers

The BSM math department is going global and displaying this in their choice of the latest Common Basket beneficiary: Kiva, a microfinancing site that tracks money lent to poor entrepreneurs all over the world. Kiva will allow BSM students to directly affect small businesses worldwide.

Working in 182 countries, Kiva is an Internet-based organization that works with local lending agencies to match donors with poor entrepreneurs. “Volunteers live in these countries and go out and find people that normally wouldn’t have access to financial aid and write up their story and post it on [Kiva],” said Mr. Dan Bowler, head of the math department.

The next step in the lending process is for other organizations or people to set up their own Kiva account. The person or organization can add a certain amount of money to their account and then start looking at the write-ups and decide who to donate to. “People with financial resources make an account and can search and decide who to lend money to. Let’s say Jose in Guatemala wants $200, so I decide to contribute $25 to his cause,” said Mr. Bowler.

Kiva uniquely allows all the money that is lent out will be returned to lenders over a certain time period. “With Jose In Guatemala, you will eventually be able to get your $25 back and lend it out to someone else in the world,” said Mr. Bowler.

The money that is collected, which should be around $2000, will equally be distributed amongst the six different grade levels. Each grade will then make a committee which will decide who to donate the money to and how much. “We don’t really know how the committees will work yet,” said Mr. Bowler, “a huge number of kids have expressed an interest, so we will post a date and time for each grade and see who shows up.”

Theo Merriam, a sophomore, is excited to be a part of the committee and already has a potential entrepreneur in mind. “I would like to be on the committee and get my class to donate to Chichi from Brazil because I like her business where she collects and sells antiques,” said Merriam.

Other students and faculty, like Ms. Jean Nightingale, already had Kiva accounts even before the idea was suggested. “We had a workshop last year, where Ms. Lenhart-Murphy suggested it to the math department. Ms. Nightingale already had a Kiva account so she taught us about it,” said Mr. Bowler, “We thought this [was] perfect, we can teach about finance and credit and it is appropriate for grades 7-12.”

Jane Huber, a junior, has had a Kiva account for over two years now. “My church group leader, a guy named Tom Okonek, found out about it and [my youth group] started bake sales and stuff to raise money,” said Huber.

Although Huber is already involved in organizing and lending out her youth group’s money, she is looking forward to being on the BSM junior class committee as well. “Benilde has a lot of money to work with, and I really have a good time looking over the profiles,” said Huber.

Overall, students and faculty alike are excited to start working with the Kiva accounts. “We as a department are very excited and hope it will catch on with the kids. We hope to get more and more money until we have a substantial amount,” said Mr. Bowler.