Longhorn Kiva helps developing economies in a unique way

Ashley Salinas

Although their clients are oceans and continents away, Longhorn Kiva seeks to help aspiring entrepreneurs around the world reach their financial goals.

Business senior Brianna Souers founded Longhorn Kiva in March 2015 after being involved in a similar organization at her high school. The club is a branch of the international organization Kiva, which aims to raise money to provide microloans, a type of small loan offered on a short term, low interest rate, to business owners in developing countries. 

“I really liked the idea of it, and I wanted to start something on campus,” Souers said. “I love the idea of bringing people together in order to enrich the lives of people all around the world.”

Souers, who now serves as an advisor to the group, advocates for this method of charity because it allows people to become self-sufficient.

“It helps people support themselves,” Souers said. “I love the idea of people being accountable for what they’re doing and then giving the money back so that someone else can also be helped with the same dollar.”

Alex Dimitroff, a finance sophomore and Longhorn Kiva’s vice president, said he appreciates how microlending allows the lender to become personally attached to their projects. During a semester, the club hosts various fundraising events such as the bake sale to raise money for loans which are lent to people around the world whom the members get to interact with.

“(The organization) has an international impact rather than just a local one,” Dimitroff said. “We get to raise the money and see exactly where it goes, so you get to be really personally involved in the process.”

Dimitroff said the organization creates exposure to various causes around the world. Members can get a glimpse into the daily lives of people in developing areas and see what their individual needs are.

“It gives you a unique perspective on what other people in different countries are going through,” Dimitroff said.  “A lot of people in the Middle East are women seeking education and a lot of people in Southeast Asia need money to buy tools for their businesses. It’s cool to see all of these different regions with their specific needs.”

Government junior Nick Garza joined the club to explore his various interests and currently serves as president of the chapter. As an officer, Garza has geared a majority of the club’s loans toward supporting agricultural businesses because of their high concentration of single female workers with families to support.

“One of our big things is to help women,” Garza said. “It’s what we’ve been passionate about and it’s something we enjoy. We want to show to everyone in our fraternity that it’s important to respect women in the way that they deserve. We want to provide (the women) with just as much as we get.”

Since the club’s formation, members have raised enough funds to provide around nine loans to entrepreneurs in need, including their latest contribution to a woman in the Philippines who runs a fishing business. The organization is still growing, but Garza encourages others to get involved and learn about communities around the world and themselves.

“You get to discover parts of yourself that you wouldn’t normally find,” Garza said. “Our motto is to help people help themselves, so that is always our end goal.”