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Hillbrook MS Kiva Lending Club Students Speak at Kiva San Jose Launch

Mary Hammers
Hillbrook students are learning about entrepreneurship while helping to change the world one microloan at a time. In November, two Hillbrook 7th graders, Joanna and Jackson, spoke at the launch of Kiva San Jose and the Peninsula telling supporters, “recycled money is a great idea!”  

Kiva is a nonprofit microlending organization that uses crowd-sourced capital to help small businesses get off the ground. It “recycles money” by giving investors the opportunity to use their repaid loans to fund another dream. Kiva has been serving borrowers internationally for over a decade before bringing its successful microlending model to help people in the United States. Now with the November launch of Kiva San Jose and the Peninsula, the organization is increasing its support of local entrepreneurs with 0% interest loans.

Hillbrook’s partnership with Kiva was formed over the summer through the Scott Center for Social Entrepreneurship when a group of Hillbrook middle school students met with members of the Kiva team and a Kiva microloan recipient. They learned how Kiva helps small businesses within the community get off the ground with loans as little as $25. That meeting spawned the “Kiva Lending Club” at Hillbrook where students can team up to make a difference in the Santa Clara Valley.

Hillbrook’s Kiva Lending Club allows students to make small loans to local entrepreneurs and watch their money be put to work. Each microloan supports a young or beginning entrepreneur helping to make their business dream a reality. Through the Kiva Lending Club Hillbrook students also:

  • Learn about different business models from burgeoning entrepreneurs
  • Research various business opportunities within Kiva to decide which to support
  • Learn about finance, loans and banking
  • Embrace the idea of “recyclable money,” where loan funds, once repaid, can be loaned back out to a new project, dream, or idea.
  • Reflect upon the existing systems that give access to capital in Silicon Valley.

In their speeches, Jackson shared how he felt inspired by the concept of micro-lending and the idea that loans repaid can be put to good use funding more projects. Joanna shared that her own entrepreneurial dream is to found a theater company some day that does not discriminate based on gender or race. Kiva’s model is committed to the diversity of Silicon Valley. Of the one billion dollars in Kiva loans made to 2.6 million borrowers since 2005, 80% have been to women, while 75% of the loans made within the Bay Area and Peninsula have been to people of color.

Through their engagement with Kiva, Hillbrook students have the opportunity to make a tangible difference. “Seeing what the students are doing through the [the Scott Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Hillbrook School] is extremely inspiring,” said Kiva U.S. intern Jake. “At their age, I wasn't fired up like they are and I am so thrilled to see their determination to make the world better.”


To learn more about Kiva and its mission, go to Kiva.org and check out this data visualization of all the loans made and repaid since 2005. To meet an entrepreneur funded by Kiva loans, check out Sharelle’s profile here.  
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