One of my best friends introduced me to kiva.org a while ago. I am one of those people who knows a thing or two about numbers so I have been aware of microfinance for a long time. I first encountered the developing world in 1991 and saw the dynamics and wondered how I could help. I really think kiva is definitely one of those solutions. As part of my 50th birthday party, I decided to set up a planetm team on kiva as I have tons of stuff so don’t need any gifts. So far we aren’t a very big group but I made some loans to encourage others. And today seven of my loans had their first repayment so I had credits to use!
The concept of kiva is making loans to people in developing countries – loans, not aid. You can loan as little as $25 so it’s viable to any person in the developed world. And anyone who has travelled will recognize that while $25 might get you a glass of champagne in New York, in Tanzania it can really make a difference.
I have found the process to be addictive 😉 It’s a well-designed site run largely by volunteers I gather. First, you read people’s stories about what they need the money for. You can select someone based on your personal values or interests. I have made lots of loans in Tanzania because I travelled there recently and fell in love with the country. One of my friends with a degree in agriculture made a loan to a pig farmer in Cambodia. I grew up on a pig farm so that made me smile 🙂
Just $25 will make your day. You get to join a bunch of other people to fund the loan and once it is fully funded, you will get an email and can go on and see who participated with you to make a difference in the world. According to the friend who got me started, the default rate is almost nothing so, as I have just discovered, you will have the money you have lent returned really quickly and you can re-lend it and continue to make a difference in people’s lives. Pretty powerful stuff. An addiction with no regrets. And no need for rehab…