Fourth-Grader A Global Micro-Lender

By Pam Kragen
The San Diego Union-Tribune.

SAN MARCOS

After school on Monday, 9-year-old Amara Kirkpatrick did a little online shopping on her dad’s laptop computer. But the San Marcos fourth-grader wasn’t buying lollipop hammers for Candy Crush. She was making microloans to women in Lebanon, Peru and Tajikistan.

Over the past two years, Amara has made 45 loans totaling $1,125 to entrepreneurs, students and needy mothers in 18 countries. The precocious grade-schooler pays for the loans with a few hundred dollars she raised at a lemonade stand and by recycling cans, as well as $1,000 her father, David Kirkpatrick, won at a charity auction.

Although he introduced Amara to Kiva.org — the nonprofit microloan foundation that manages her account — Kirkpatrick said he’s allowed his daughter to make all the decisions about where, why and how much she wants to invest. And Amara has very definite opinions on where the money should go.

“I like to make loans to women, because in many parts of the world, women aren’t treated as well as they are here in America,” she said. “I also like to provide food because people need to eat. And I like investing in education. A lot of my loans are to women who need money to get their kids into school.”

Kirkpatrick said he started teaching Amara about money three years ago. First she learned how to make money by recycling soft drink cans. Then she learned how to save money with her first savings account.Then he decided to teach her how to use money for a good cause.

Two years ago, Kirkpatrick’s alternative energy company held an employee party where he won a $1,000 grant to be used for charity. He decided to use the grant as a teaching tool for Amara by creating a Kiva account in her name.

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