El Estoque

Q&A with the MVHS Microfinance Club president

Shayon Moradi

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s the first lunch bell sounded on a Thursday, November 2, students rushed to D202 for the third meeting of MVHS Microfinance club. The officer team gave a presentation on how to make responsible loans to entrepreneurs around the world. In their meeting they discuss which entrepreneurs to invest in. Club President senior Ryan Miranda discusses the inner workings of the club and all the good he thinks the club has done.

El Estoque: How does the Microfinance club work? How do you find people to lend to and how do they get the money?

Ryan Miranda: We [give out]  loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries and basically, when [an] entrepreneur needs help they go to this organization called Kiva which has field partners in various countries around the world and they approach these field partners and they ask for loans, so the entrepreneurs goes to the field partner in their respective country who then goes to Kiva to post their information on Kiva’s page, so we then research this entry. We research the country to make sure it’s a sustainable loan and business then we make the loan and once they get back on their feet they repay us.

EE: What exactly is Kiva?

RM: [Kiva] is a nonprofit that has various field partner[s] in countries around the world that find people in the region that need help and you know put them on their website. Then Kiva’s main job is to act as a middleman between the lenders like us and the different people around the world.

EE: What kind of positive impact do you think your club has had?

RM: In the last year we made around 20 loans and each entrepreneur went on to become a successful business in their respective country and it’s doubtful they would have been able to without us because they were all in a pretty bad state before Kiva found them. So I’m pretty confident that we have made a pretty good impact in all those countries but of course the goal is to help the entire world and that’s what we’re working on.

EE:Describe the most memorable entrepreneur you loaned money to last year.

RM: So last year [there] was this [man] named Fulgence in Rwanda and his goal was to be the largest coffee exporter in his region. So you know he was on Kiva so we helped him out and then when he, so he got back to us he wrote us a letter about how thankful he was and now he is, [and how] he achieved his dream, he is the biggest exporter in his region and it was really cool to see how we actually managed to change someone’s life in such a huge way in a short amount of time because his loan. His repayment length was only about 6 months after that he was good, his life changed for the better.

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Fulgence at his coffee plantation in Uganda

EE: What are some of the challenges the entrepreneurs you loan to have to face?

RM: So one loan we made over this past week actually was in Paraguay and it was this group of women in Paraguay, a group of divorced women, they didn’t have anyone to support them since their husbands were gone or sick. So they were operating on  really low incomes and yet they still had to run a business, [it] was an agriculture business to support their children and so because of this lack of income and because their husbands weren’t around they needed Kiva to help them out. You know most of the time it’s just a difficult financial situation or for example in Rwanda there was a drought the previous year so thats why he [Fulgence] was in a bad spot so it’s usually financial situations but it can be environmental [ones too].