The ninth grade class and their advisory teacher, Ms. Owens, have been working on a project throughout the year, a microfinance project. The microfinance project is a project where the ninth graders provide a small loan for people who are trying to start or improve their business. The idea is that the people that they finance will pay back the loan in one year’s time. Ms. Owens says that this project is a way for students to have more empathy for other people, know how hard life for other people is, and she also says it allows them to understand how business works in the developing world. “It gets us out into the community, and we can learn more about Mali.”
The ninth graders have been working on this project since the beginning of the year. They baked brownies and sold them at school during the month of October, getting over 50,000 CFA. They then created applications with questions about what the applicant's business plan was, how they would accomplish that, why they needed the money, and many other questions that they thought were necessary to ask. The ninth graders sent out a lot of applications and received a lot of applications back.
They looked over the applications and put them into three piles. The “Yes,” “No,” and “Maybe” piles. The “No’s” they threw away and the “Yes, and Maybes” they looked at again. Then the interviews followed, and the ninth graders got to meet the people they wanted to help and ask them as many questions as they wished. Shameilah Schumann said, “So far we've been interviewing many different people and seeing how their business is working and trying to figure out who is most in need and deserving of this loan.”
There were three people that they really liked, a welder named Bah Sada, a soap maker named Dramane Sangare, and a farmer named Salia Sidibe. The class visited two of them, the welder and the soap maker. In the end they chose the welder, Bah Sada, because they felt like he was the best and they thought they could help him out the most.
The ninth graders felt proud and confident about the project and thought that the project really is going to help. Boubacar Ouane said, “I am excited to see the outcome, because it is always nice to see the people from my country get help and be successful.”