As part of a field study pro­gram last summer, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity stu­dent Shilpi Roongta gave a $200 microloan to an impov­er­ished woman in the Dominican Republic to start a small busi­ness selling fried chicken.

The loan made it pos­sible for her to pro­vide for her family,” said Roongta, a busi­ness major with a triple con­cen­tra­tion in social entre­pre­neur­ship, finance and mar­keting. “Without it, I didn’t see how she could survive.”

Roongta is one of 40 stu­dents in a social entre­pre­neur­ship course who will spend spring break in Mata Los Indios, a rural vil­lage in the Dominican Republic where hun­dreds of res­i­dents live on about $1 a day.

The goal of the 10-​​day expe­ri­en­tial learning oppor­tu­nity is to design a micro­fi­nance busi­ness plan to alle­viate poverty in the com­mu­nity. The stu­dents, who hope to raise $25,000 by the end of the semester to fund small-​​business loans, also plan to build a school and a house for an espe­cially poor family.

Stu­dents will com­plete the project through Northeastern’s Social Enter­prise Insti­tute in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Esper­anza Inter­na­tional, a non­profit micro­fi­nance orga­ni­za­tion in the Dominican Republic. A handful of stu­dents have com­pleted co-​​ops with the non­profit, which has granted some $23 mil­lion in loans to about 35,000 fam­i­lies over the last 15 years.

Carlos Pimentel, pres­i­dent of Esper­anza Inter­na­tional, spoke to about 100 stu­dents on campus on Wednesday, as part of the Social Enter­prise Lec­ture Series. Pimentel, who made his first visit to Boston this week, will return to the Dominican Republic with more than three-​​dozen stu­dents on Saturday.

He praised the young, glob­ally aware busi­ness leaders for con­ducting research and hosting focus groups on the impact of microloans on impov­er­ished fam­i­lies. Some 3.2 mil­lion people in the Dominican Republic live in extreme poverty.

North­eastern is teaching a new gen­er­a­tion of stu­dents the power of social entre­pre­neur­ship,” said Pimentel, who added, “micro-​​credit is the most dig­ni­fied way to fight poverty.”

He said that stu­dents at North­eastern and impov­er­ished men, women and chil­dren in the Dominican Republic each want the same things in life, including eco­nomic freedom and hap­pi­ness. “We would like to see our fam­i­lies enjoying the same things that you want for your­selves and your family,” he said.

Dennis Shaugh­nessy, founder and director of the Social Enter­prise Insti­tute, said that expe­ri­en­tial learning oppor­tu­ni­ties in coun­tries such as the Dominican Republic give stu­dents a prac­tical under­standing of con­cepts learned through coursework.

Stu­dents truly commit them­selves to raising cap­ital to help poor fam­i­lies,” said Shaugh­nessy, who noted that some 150 stu­dents would have helped the country’s poor start small busi­nesses by the end of the summer.

What better way to learn than by seeing the impact that micro­fi­nance has on people’s lives?” he said.