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Image from the story Explore Microlending

Target Grade Levels:
Grades 7-12

• The Activity
• Video Discussion Questions
• Taking It Further
• Connections to Curriculum Standards

The Activity

Show students where Uganda is on a map.

Watch the video story, Uganda: A Little Goes a Long Way (length: 15:46). To focus student viewing, ask students to take notes on how money travels from lenders to borrowers and back again. After watching the video, work as a class to create a diagram of this loan cycle, using the related illustration as a model. Also, have students respond to the Video Discussion Questions below.

Discuss the role of each participant in the loan cycle diagram (e.g., lenders,, local partners, borrowers) and record brief descriptions of these roles on the diagram. Then, have students read the FRONTLINE/World features, Interview: Premel Shaw, President of, The Lender's Stories, and A World of Small Businesses to identify the incentives that motivate each group. Note these details on the diagram as well.

Next, give your class a first-hand experience with microlending by inviting each student to contribute $1-2 to use for a loan to a small business through (minimum loan amount on $25). Review the profiles of potential borrowers and select a recipient of the class loan. (Note: Borrowers on are quickly funded. Be sure to complete the lending process as soon as possible after students agree on a borrower to avoid disappointment.) Track the progress of the loan and discuss how the loan affected the business of the borrower.

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Video Discussion Questions

Focus student viewing of Uganda: A Little Goes a Long Way (length: 15:46) by having them take notes on how money travels from lenders to borrowers and back again. Also, discuss the following questions:

  • Why didn’t Grace Ayaa (peanut butter business owner) go to her local bank or moneylender for the loan she needed to build her business?
  • How do interest rates for loans affect the abilities of business owners to expand their businesses and increase profits?
  • How risky do students think loans are to the small business owners featured in the video?


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Taking it Further

Using the FRONTLINE/World feature, Evolution of Microfinance, create a timeline showing the major developments of this practice in history. Discuss the pros and cons of microfinance. How could the concerns of microfinance critics be resolved?

Connections to Curriculum Standards

These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge, a compilation of content standards and benchmarks for K-12 curriculum by McRel (Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning).

Behavioral Studies, Standard 4:
Understands conflict, cooperation, and interdependence among individuals, groups, and institutions.

Business Education, Standard 15:
Knows unique characteristics of an entrepreneur.

Economics, Standard 2:
Understands characteristics of different economic systems, economic institutions, and economic incentives.

Level III, Benchmark 5:
Understands the types of specialized economic institutions found in market economies (e.g., corporations, partnerships, cooperatives, labor unions, banks, nonprofit organizations).
Level III, Benchmark 6: 
Understands that economic incentives such as wanting to acquire money or goods and services and wanting to avoid loss are powerful forces affecting the way people behave.

Level IV, Benchmark 2: 
Understands that economic institutions (e.g., small and large firms, labor unions, not-for-profit organizations) have different goals, rules, and constraints, and thus respond differently to changing economic conditions and incentives.

Economics, Standard 4:
Understands basic features of market structures and exchanges.

Economics, Standard 7:
Understands savings, investment, and interest rates.

Geography, Standard 11:
Understands the patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface.

Language Arts, Standard 9:
Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media.

Life Work, Standard 8: Operates effectively within organizations.

Level IV, Benchmark 2:
Understands the extent to which organizational values are compatible with personal values.
Technology, Standard 6:
Understands the nature and uses of different forms of technology.

World History, Standard 44:
Understands the search for community, stability, and peace in an interdependent world.

Level III, Benchmark 2:
Understands influences on economic development around the world.
World History, Standard 45:
Understands major global trends since World War II.
Level IV, Benchmark 2:
Understands causes of economic imbalances and social inequalities among the world's peoples and efforts made to close these gaps.

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