Belize

In March 2007, six students and staff members journeyed to Belize to create a long-term plan for the micro-lending network, which is a project that helps to bring very small loans to impoverished Belizean entrepreneurs with the goal of assisting them help themselves out of poverty. The microloans are usually no more than $300 - $400US. The team developed a partnership with the Rotary Club of Belmopan, Belize and several returned in July 2007 to launch the first loans. In May 2008, seven students and three staff members traveled to Belize to contract with the non-profit organization, Belize Enterprise for Sustainable Technology (B.E.S.T.), to manage the microloans.

In May 2009, 15 students and staff members delivered further investments, worked with loan recipients, and performed service work for a recipient. During the spring 2010 semester, the project became the focus of an interdisciplinary course, exploring the concept of micro-lending as a tool to eradicate poverty. Nine student participants and two instructors, partially funded by a Quality Enhancement Plan grant from the University, traveled to Belize in March, using the trip as a case study of micro-lending practices and social justice issues. Students performed the risk assessment and selection of two microloan recipients with B.E.S.T. and assisted one of the recipients with expanding her grocery stand. Over the years, students have conducted numerous fundraisers for the microloans, including campus yard sales, Kentucky Derby Festival events, and cola and pizza sales at campus events. Loans have also been funded by community partners, the Louisville Rotary Club and the Bellarmine Women’s Council. The group has over $4000US invested in Belize in revolving loans with B.E.S.T.

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