This SFU team is ‘engaging the world’ through microloans
By Allen Tung
SFU’s Kiva microloan team has loaned more money to the world’s impoverished than any other Canadian university Kiva team. The SFU team has assisted approximately 8,000 impoverished individuals in more than 70 countries.
Kiva is a non-profit organization working to alleviate poverty by connecting lenders with individuals worldwide who wish to start a small business, purchase livestock, attend school or build a house.
As of Dec. 9, 2015, SFU’s Kiva team, comprised of students, faculty, staff, retirees, alumni, family and friends, had made almost 2,000 loans totalling $51,950, placing it in the top 50 university teams worldwide. The team was established in 2008.
Money lent through Kiva goes directly to one of more than 300 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and micro-lending organizations that act as Kiva’s field partners. These organizations, located near the borrowers, post loan requests along with business plans and funding goals on Kiva’s website. Once the funding goal is reached, the partner administers the loan.
Team member Dan McDonald, an SFU Beedie business professor emeritus, has given out more than 700 loans. He was spurred into philanthropy after reading Banker to the Poor, authored by micro-lending pioneer Muhammad Yunus.
“He knows what’s needed in terms of supplying capital to individuals and marginalized groups who are often at the mercy of local money lenders,” says McDonald.
He says he is impressed by Kiva’s efficiency and effectiveness at helping people.
“When you give to a large aid organization that’s based in North America, the money passes through many different organizations before it reaches the people you want to help,” he says. “Each time the money changes hands, a cut is taken for administration and overhead. By then a lot of it is gone.”
But since Kiva’s field partners are all local, they can screen borrowers, disburse loans and collect repayments more efficiently and with less overhead. The partners cover their operating costs by collecting interest on the loan from the borrower.
“This [team] exposes SFU’s name to NGOs and their employees around the world,” says McDonald. “The Kiva team reflects our commitment to ‘engaging the world’.”