Sunday, November 13, 2011
Kiva Changes the World, One Person at a Time
Do you ever dream about all the good you would do if you were rich? Perhaps you'd travel the world making a difference? Or maybe, like Bill Gates, you'd start a foundation that funds your favorite causes? Well that's soooo 20th century. The Internet changed everything. Now you can be that foundation and you don't have to be rich. You just need twenty-five bucks.
Here's the story of how my family became a mini global financier. We loaned twenty-five dollars through Kiva to Chum Vuthy of Phnom Penh City, Cambodia , who needed a motor bike to expand her cake delivery business. Our loan was bundled with twenty-five dollar loans from dozens of people around the world and Mrs. Vuthy was a step closer to her dream - to shore up the family home against deadly monsoons. Instead of withdrawing the money once she made repayment, we lent it to a Pakistani family looking to add variety to their fruit vending cart. The cycle of lending continues, as our two $25 dollar donations have morphed into $200 and counting. We've lent to a food co-op in The Congo, a taxi driver in Bolivia, an electronics saleswoman in The Sudan, a wood products manufacturer in Viet Nam, and to a family in Afghanistan. And I am pleased to report that every one of our borrowers has repaid his or her loan. In fact, Kiva borrowers have an excellent track record for repayment -98.36%.
Kiva provides a unique opportunity for families to lift themselves out of poverty, since typical banks dismiss these folks for lack of collateral. Many families have been able to send their children to school for the first time and make additions to their one room homes. Now there is hope where once there was only struggle and grinding poverty.
There are so many would be entrepreneurs listed with Kiva that choosing among them is difficult. To narrow it down I typically lend to people from recently traumatized regions. When beloved former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated I attempted to issue a loan in Pakistan, only to find something remarkable had happened. There wasn't anyone to loan to in the entire world. Every Kiva loan had been filled! That doesn't happen often, if at all. Could thousands of souls around the world have shared the same yearning - to spread hope during a time of tragedy? I cried that day. Twice.
Our most recent loan thrills me. It is to Abisunganye, a group of shoe saleswomen in Rwanda. Since the genocide there killed 800,000 people, mostly men, women of Rwanda were left to rebuild their country. And rebuild they have! They picked up the mantel in government and the economy, leaving those who follow their story in awe.
I also like how Kiva lets lenders link up in affinity teams. And I have no compunction to pitting rival groups against each other if it means more money for Kiva. Hey Christians, the Atheists are the top lending team and you are number three. Go get 'em! While I'm at it, Norway, Canada is really cleaning your clock over there.
With the holidays coming up check out my content related store and affiliate links. 100% of my profits will be donated to Kiva. Even if you're not an environmentalist or some over-the-top New Ager there are gift cards and gadgets listed too.
Or, better yet, direct loans can be made to Kiva borrowers by visiting the site.
Women Rise in Rwanda's Economic Revival - The Washington Post
Clinton Launches Micro-Lending Drive (Kiva in the US) - The Wall Street Journal
List of Articles Written About Kiva in Newspapers and Periodicals World-Wide
Moving video where a journalist meets his Kiva borrower:
*This is not a sponsored post.