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Microloan programs arrive at UMBC, Loyola

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the business school at Loyola University Maryland have each received a $25,000 grant to launch microloan programs affiliated with Kiva, a nonprofit that provides loans around the world.

Baltimore-based OneMain Financial provided the grants to enable UMBC and Loyola’s Sellinger School of Business and Management to launch the programs, which will be the state’s first two formally designated chapters of Kiva U — the division of Kiva that engages students and educators.

Students who participate in the Kiva U chapters will learn about the impact of microloans on impoverished communities and will work with faculty to issue small loans to people in their surrounding communities and internationally.

At UMBC, the Kiva U chapter is being launched in conjunction with BreakingGround, the university’s civic engagement initiative, which involves courses and community activities.

Students will work with faculty and staff in UMBC’s Shriver Center, which organizes community service and applied learning programs, to create marketing strategies that encourage campus groups and university partners to participate in the microfinance efforts.

Their goal is to award the first round of loans, as many as 10 microloans, in the spring of 2015.

The loans will be awarded through the online Kiva platform.

Students in Loyola’s Kiva U chapter will make some international loans but will focus on awarding loans to entrepreneurs and organizations along the York Road corridor in Baltimore, in keeping with the university’s commitment to its neighborhood.

Loyola launched the York Road Initiative in 2008 to improve the quality of life for people living, working and attending school in the area.

“Kiva micro loans, facilitated by our students, give someone a chance to grow a small idea a little bigger,” Karyl B. Leggio, a finance professor at Loyola, said in a statement. “It also tells them that someone believes in their idea and is willing to invest in them.”

The Kiva U initiative was launched in partnership with Citigroup Inc., which owns OneMain Financial (formerly CitiFinancial).

Sheldon Caplis, the community relations director for OneMain Financial, said in a statement that the company wants to help students understand the value of microfinance and “give them new tools to help shape their philanthropic values.”

“These campus lending chapters will empower students to be responsible for important funding decisions and bring their entrepreneurial energy to low and moderate income communities,” Caplis said.