One Dollar, Worth More than You Think

Original: May 10, 2011 Issue 16

By: Julian Sadur

Contributing Writer

Students Look Beyond US Borders in Hopes of Helping Young Entrepreneurs

A dollar might not seem much to you, but for the people who work with The One Hen Project, a student run micro-lending group out of Montgomery College, a dollar can go a long way. That single dollar bill could help some young entrepreneur start his business on the other side of the globe, and that is what The One Hen Project hopes will happen every time they lend money out

The project, only a year old, has been so successful in lending out money to young entrepreneurs that the head of the program, Paola Castillo, a second year student at Montgomery College in the Macklin Business program decided it was necessary to conduct a fundraiser to help the lending continue smoothly while they wait for their prior loans to be repaid.

Although the fundraiser, held on April 20, did not reach the hoped total of $500 and ended up much closer to $200, Castillo said that with those $200 dollars another eight young entrepreneurs could be funded.

Because of the currency rates “just a dollar goes a long way” said Castillo and by donating to the cause donors are giving money to young people who are capable of “great things” and doing that “you are doing something to better the world

Students coming to the event were not quite sure of its purpose at first and many had not heard of the fundraiser until they walked by it on Wednesday April 20.

The fundraiser featured music, snow cones, popcorn, and ice coffee for potential supporters of the organization. The selection of iced products seemed to be a real hit for students passing by the Theatre Arts Building on one of the hotter days of the week.

“I saw people leaving with snow cones and that’s what brought me over here”, said Justin Robson a first year student at Montgomery College. Once students got to the event many of them seemed to enjoy the snacks that were offered, but more importantly the mission that the One Hen Project looked to accomplish.

“It’s great to see a program here that gives back to people not just in the U.S., but across the world to people who are maybe not as well off as we are,” said second year student Matthew Steadman of the program.

First year student Nathan Reel said, “The idea of the organization is great, it could use a bit more promotion, but the idea behind it really sounds good.”

The One Hen program got its initial start last year according to Castillo when the “Make It Happen” organization here at Montgomery College granted them $3,500 to help start their micro lending through www.kiva.org, a website that helps connect potential lenders with small time entrepreneurs across the globe. According to Castillo the idea for the One Hen Project came from a children’s book based on a true story entitled “One Hen” that promotes micro lending success.

In the story a young boy from Ghana borrows a few coins from his village’s collective fund and goes to buy a chicken with hopes of selling the eggs and buying more chickens with the revenue. In the end the child is able to build on his plan and eventually come to own one of the biggest chicken farms in Ghana.

The One Hen Project however is not just a micro-lending program; members also travel to local schools such as Springbrook High School to teach micro-lending fundamentals and the importance of starting small. The program reaches out to kids as young as 6 years old.

“I don’t know how but somehow we were able to teach the kids using pictures and stories,” as Castillo said.

Macklin Business Institute director Stephen Lang was unavailable for interview, but sources at the Institute were able to inform that the One Hen Project will continue next year and continue lending to potential.