Rosa Merma Visa is a 38-year-old clothing maker in Peru.
Ren Rathy is a food vendor from Cambodia.
Joseph Kariuki Mwangi is a 50-year-old farmer from Kenya.
What do they all have in common? They are all the recipients of small loans from the students of Mountain View Elementary school to help them grow their businesses and raise themselves out of poverty.
The loans are made through Kiva, an organization that connects people to entrepreneurs across the world through microfinancing, the use of small loans to people in developing countries.
Kiva works by partnering with banks in developing countries and posting profiles of people seeking loans to it’s website. Potential lenders can then log on and decide if they want to donate money to that person.
The student council at Mountain View Elementary decided to take part last year and received $500 from the Revelstoke Community Foundation, of which they put $300 into the Kiva project for three separate loans of $100 each.
“We decided to do Kiva because we thought it would be a good way to help other people who have less money than us here in Revelstoke,” said Emma Bellerose, a grade seven student who was one of the members of last year’s student council that chose to start the project.
The project was introduced to student council by teacher Kim Floyd. They then chose to help people in three walks of life – clothing, agriculture and food.
The descriptions of the recipients they chose are posted on the Kiva website (www.kiva.org) and on the wall at Mountain View.
Rose Merma Visa, a single mother of three living in Cachimayo-anta, Peru, buys and sells pants, jackets, shirts and children’s clothes and is using the money to invest in her clothing business.
Ren Rathy is part of a group from a small Cambodian Village. She is the president of the village’s bank and her and eleven others are using the money to support their various businesses. Rathy is using the funds to expand her small food store.
Joseph Kariuki Mwangi, a husband and father of eight, said he plans on using the loan to buy fertilizer and seedling for his farm and pay his employees. His plan is to boost his farm’s production and raise more dairy cows.
“We decided to choose people who were most finished so we could get the money back faster for student council this year,” said Bellerose.
“So we could choose more people to help,” added Emma Rota, another student who helped start the project.
The hope is to keep the project going and have future student councils loan out the money as previous loans are re-paid.
“We’re going to help more people with the money we get back and keep re-using it,” said Rota.