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Three St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute juniors – Bradley Kreppel, Connor Rosenecker and Nick Courtney – have started a not-for-profit organization that reaches out to people who have economic issues from all over the country.

“We don’t [donate to] a specific area, we try and reach out to diverse places,” said Bradley.

From an idea to a reality with the help of Bradley’s dad, International Micro-Loans of Buffalo was created.

Initially intended to practice an interest of Bradley’s, the organization grew when his friends wanted to help out.

“It helps us test out the business waters,” said Nick.

The organization is surrounded by the idea of a micro-loan, which comes from the harsh reality that some people in other countries suffer greatly from poverty, destruction and lack of employment, but if a person could get some money to start a business, he or she could have the tools necessary to build a better lifestyle.

“We see it as service first, with the opportunity to learn about business,” said Connor.

The three aren’t traveling across the world, but they use another organization that allows them to successfully send their donations and allows them to carry out their organization’s goal. It’s called Kiva.

Kiva connects with many micro-loans organizations, schools and not-for-profit organizations all over the world. Organizations can go on Kiva’s website and select people in need in a variety of areas across the world to send money to in order to help them with their needs. Then the people who get help pay back the money, little by little with no charges.

“We are a nonprofit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty,” reads Kiva’s website (www.kiva.org).

“We send loans to people, [for example], who desire to buy food, and then they send money back,” Bradley said.

International Micro-Loans of Buffalo takes the same approach in running their business.

“We wanted to make sure everyone has a voice,” said Nick.

“It was easy to start [the business], but we got lucky with having such nice donors,” Connor said.

In order to keep up with donors, the group sends letters and maintains a Facebook page and a website.

The boys have met with Westminster Economic Development Initiative, a local organization that is trying to improve the lives of the people living on the West Side. At the meeting, the group was introduced to new ways of running their business.

“Overall it’s not hard to start something like this,” said Connor. “It’s a great thing to do, [especially] when it’s so easy to do.”

But owning the business creates a lot of work for the already busy high school juniors.

“Most of the work comes from maintaining the website and sending letters,” Nick said.

So far International Micro-Loans has issued about $5,000 over 20 loans and has more than 75 donors.

The boys are not only gaining the hands-on experience of running a business but the humbleness of service.

“We’re deciding if we want to go through with it in college or hand it down to students in lower grades,” Bradley said about International Micro-Loans’ future.

For more information, visit www.bufmicroloans.org or like them on Facebook.

Evan Hayes is a senior at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute.