I am the Chief Operating Officer of our student run bank in school, The Utahloy Development Bank (UDB). UDB is a school-based micro finance bank that supports the student-led clubs by offering loans and grants to lead awareness campaigns, after school clubs and general growth and development of extracurricular activities in school. This empowers students to lead projects without the burden of fundraising, allowing these groups to focus more on hands-on action. The bank provides loans to many Creativity Action Services (CAS), a core component of the International Baccalaureate curriculum schemes, to ensure students can bring meaningful change to the school and the local community.
This AOC (activity outside classroom) also leads major development initiatives to play our part in accomplishing the Sustainable Development Goals. For example, UDB aided in the building of a fence on a nearby farm. For this project, we identified Goals 1, 8 and, 10 as the main focus to support “inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all." UDB supports this group, who supply our school with nutritious farm produce. Nevertheless, our main mission for the future is to lead the installation of solar panels around campus, paving the way with renewable energy.
I was inspired to take the position of leader in the UDB because I admired the idea behind the initiative. Many proposals at school are rejected due to a lack of funds, and I feel that money should never be an issue for teenagers to project their vision. They should focus on creating a meaningful agenda instead of stressing about raising funds. I believe students should be provided with the necessary resources to accomplish their goals. The development bank aids projects which raise awareness, solving issues using the financial tools provided, consequently taking their initiatives to the next level. Of course, the loans don’t factor interest, as the profit generated is invested in future activities or donated to charity. The club also offers several subsidies, most notably in the form of grants, as many events are less financially oriented and not for profit, for example, funding the International Women’s Day Campaign where students will use the funds to create campaign posters.
The reason I’ve written this article is to show other students and teachers the power in student agency. Members of the Utahloy Development Bank understand how a business works by operating in different departments: finance, marketing, and operations. We learn how to handle money and delegate responsibilities. We meet once every week to discuss loan or grant requests. Once approved the operations team does the paperwork. The finance team decides the payment options and the marketing team communicates and promotes the event in the community. We have a teacher supervisor who is responsible for the safekeeping of the money. Ultimately, if students are assisted in overcoming financial obstacles, they can accomplish miracles. Every school is booming with dreams, they just need the funds to turn them into reality. The bank funds were procured by winning a global student competition. The prize money was used to create the micro financing bank. I am deeply enjoying overseeing projects, approving loans/grants and funding meaning projects for my school mates. This year we have funded major projects like the Movember (an annual event during the month of November to raise awareness of men's health issues) and Pinktober (celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness month in October) campaigns and we aim to continue supporting student led meaningful activities. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ahaan is a year 11 student at the Utahloy International School Guangzhou, China.