Kiva U: High School Partners with Neighboring Kiva Zip Borrowers
The students at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory are taking their education into their own hands. An avid group of Kiva supporters from the school are reaching out to Kiva borrowers in their hometown of San Francisco to learn more about the impact of microfinance.
Abi Basch is a social sciences teacher and Kiva U leader at Sacred Heart. Last year at the Kiva U Summit in San Francisco, Abi and her students met Sheila and Toni, Kiva Zip borrowers and owners of Bumzy’s Cookies. As Abi says, “not only were they, their stories and their cookies compelling (and delicious!), but we realized that their brick and mortar location was 2 blocks from our school made them an ideal partner.”
So Abi brought her student leaders to Bumzy’s San Francisco location to visit Sheila and Toni and hear their story. The students learned how the women developed their business, the impact of receiving a Zip loan in terms of growing their business and most importantly, the role of community and service in their work.
Sacred Heart has continued to develop a relationship with Bumzy’s Cookies, presenting their cookies as rewards for successful student businesses after their annual Kiva Carnival and inviting Sheila and Toni to present at Sacred Heart’s Kiva microfinance teach-in in January (alongside Justin Renfro and Jessica Hansen from Kiva). Since the teach-in, several students have visited their bakery and the relationship between Bumzy’s and Sacred Heart has grown. This year, Abi took the entire Kiva Microfinance Club (about 30 students) to visit Bumzy’s San Francisco location.
Sacred Heart began another partnership this year with Kiva Zip borrower Indosole. Kyle, the founder of Indosole, also presented at Sacred Heart’s Kiva Microfinance teach-in and shared opportunities with Sacred Heart students for summer internships.
For students at Sacred Heart these relationships have provided them with unique and meaningful insights about microfinance and business. Here’s what both students and teachers involved in the program had to share about their experience:
"It is very important for me to engage with local Zip borrowers because it teaches us the challenges starting businesses face, but also their achievements in overcoming their obstacles. It also inspires us to invest in local Zip borrowers' businesses; my investment and thousands of other investments serve as motivation for them to accomplish their dreams.”—Presh Listana (student)
"These Kiva Zip borrowers embody the spirit of the community not only through their hard work and dedication, but through the ways in which they give back to the people in their district... Let's take Bumzy's Cookies for example. The fierce female leaders of Bumzy's Cookies stopped at the end of the day to greet both old and new faces. Seeing the excess cookies that they did not sell for the day, I asked Toni what they did with them. She told me that a business cannot just take from the community, they have to give back to it. She explained that Bumzy’s either gives their cookies to homeless individuals who reside in the Fillmore or to people in need at the food bank instead of wasting their product in the compost.”—Sammi Preoli (student)
"My hope is that by continuing to develop our Kiva Service Learning Project, we are not only introducing our students to Kiva and Kiva Zip, but encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit in each of them... We are hoping that our students will continue to [perpetuate] a beautiful human cycle of microfinance through Kiva!”—Erin Kayser (teacher)
"Becoming a team leader for SHC's Kiva Microfinance Club has been such a meaningful experience for me...[The owners of Bumzy's Cookies] use their store as a community meeting place and work diligently to bake the cookies they sell. This has truly inspired me to maybe start a social business of my own as I will be majoring in Business and Administration in college next fall. Kiva has made impacts in my life that I will carry along with me wherever I go."—Charlene Louie (student)
Sacred Heart hosts its Kiva Carnival every year, an event where students sell goods and services to students, teachers, parents and alumni and then invest their profits in Kiva loans. The students emulate Kiva borrowers by receiving microloans from their school to start their small businesses. This year’s carnival will take place on April 21 from 1:30-3pm and both Bumzy’s Cookies and Indosole will take part in hopes of inspiring the students even further and reinforcing the notion of building community through microfinance. This year’s carnival is focused on “promoting green social entrepreneurship," which is particularly exciting because both companies are uniquely green. Bumzy’s commits to using natural ingredients and Indosole makes repurposed shoes out of tires to reduce waste and impact on the environment.
Sacred Heart is doing great work to support Kiva and give its students an incredible opportunity to experience microfinance first-hand. Thank you to all the teachers who have worked so hard to develop and continue this incredible program and we can't wait to see more students share in these experiences.