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Eighth graders grant loans to Third World entrepreneurs

Natalie Nelmark was one of the eighth graders who helped with the Kiva project, a program that provides loans to Third World entrepreneurs. Her essay on the program was chosen as the top essay. SUBMITTED PHOTO1 / 2
Rosa Magdalena was one of the chosen recipients of a loan through the Kiva program. She lives in Ecuador. SUBMITTED PHOTO2 / 2

Detroit Lakes 8th grade students spent time a couple weeks ago providing 70 Kiva loans, totaling almost $2,000 to Third World entrepreneurs in Latin America. 

Kiva is a non-profit organization based out of San Francisco with a mission to alleviate poverty worldwide. These 8th grade students, taught by Mike Even, Mike Fiedler and Kent Mollberg, have partnered with the Detroit Lakes Morning Rotary Club and the Detroit Lakes Noon Rotary Club to provide nearly $6,000 in Kiva loans annually. 

This educational project aligns perfectly with national geography standards as determined by the department of education. The beauty of this project is that now not only are students learning about the world, but they are actively participating in making the world a smaller and better place.

Student Natalie Nelmark’s Kiva essay was selected as the top essay written for this project. It follows.

On Thursday, Dec. 12, Maddie Herzog, Natalie Nelmark and Braydon Ortloff, all student members of the Detroit Lakes Middle School Kiva Club, gave a loan of $25 to Rosa Magdalena, a fruit seller in Ecuador.

Rosa requested a total of $1,200 to help her purchase seasonal fruits and a stall to sell them out of.

The Laker Kiva Club is a sponsorship between the Detroit Lakes Middle School and the two Detroit Lakes Rotary Clubs. The Rotary Clubs have donated $5,800 to the Laker Kiva Club to begin the program.

Ortloff, Herzog, and Nelmark were given $25 through this program and were allowed to donate to any entrepreneur in the world. Kiva is a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.

Kiva leverages the Internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions to lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world. To learn more please visit

The students chose Rosa Magdalena because of her story. Rosa is a 59-year-old single mother of four, living alone in a rundown rented house. She has been selling fruit for years, making just enough money to get by.

The average income in Ecuador is only $4,700 a year. (In the United States, the average annual income is $47,000.) Since Rosa doesn’t have a spouse, she has no other source of income.

Rosa Magdalena will be allowed eight months to pay back her loan of $1,200.

Nelmark said, “I’m elated at the fact that I helped someone in a third world country. Since Rosa doesn’t have many opportunities like we have here in the United States, it’s really cool that I got to help her achieve her goal.”

In fact, according to the World Factbook, 27 percent of people living in Ecuador are below the poverty line.

“Since Ecuador’s average income is less than a fourth of ours in the United States, it feels great to help someone out. This opportunity will change Rosa’s life; I’m glad we participated in Kiva,” Nelmark said.

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