To learn more, or to contribute, go to the Michigan Tech Alumni Association Kiva website.

Small Loans, Big Results

A couple hundred bucks may not go that far in the US anymore. But in the developing world, it can set up a dressmaker, provide seed money for farmers, or supply a general store.

Tom Arbuckle '75 decided to harness the power of small money last fall by forming a Michigan Tech Alumni Association Kiva Lending Team.

Kiva, according to its website, is "the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend to unique entrepreneurs around the globe."

"I was impressed with the idea of loans because you can see the same money being used again and again," Arbuckle said. "The entrepreneurs are using the money to help their families while providing goods and services to their communities."

Lenders can browse the profiles of entrepreneurs on the Kiva site and decide whom they would like to support. "The loans are given to real projects with descriptions, pictures, stories, etc.," said Arbuckle. "I like the idea of knowing how much money is given to whom and for what purpose."

Dr. Mark Mitchell '77, president of the Alumni Association and a Kiva team member, encouraged other alumni to join the team. "I hope this kiva.org group will give our alumni the means to further fund good works across the world," he said.

The profiles on the Kiva site hit home for Steph (Wisniewski) Krieger, another member of the Alumni Association's Kiva lending team. "I'm an entrepreneur myself, and I came from small beginnings," she said. "I'm now a consultant, and I regularly hear from people who have great ideas but can't find the money to implement them."

Kiva reminded Krieger of a 2008 Jim Carrey movie, in which the banker protagonist approves small loans to local entrepreneurs.

"I thought this is a real life Yes Man story," she said, adding, "I believe we should broaden our minds to what community means. The real power behind Kiva is reach. The Michigan Tech alumni online community reach is currently at 26,000 and growing. As more alumni join in, one by one, and Kiva matures, the success stories unfold. This is what it is about for me, being a part of something great for someone else."