Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Kiva - Loans that change lives

I first heard about Kiva a couple of years ago when my brother-in-law gave me a gift card for it.  I checked out the site, picked someone to help and used my gift card to lend them $25.00.

I had never heard of micro-finance but I had heard of a man who was changing the world one small loan at a time...and now I had the chance to do the same!
A few months later I got an email saying my $25.00 has been paid back in full and I could use it to lend to someone else.  And so on.  Here we are a few years and many loans later and we have helped a lot of people in the 3rd world get businesses off the ground or expanded. 

Kiva is a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of micro-finance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world. Learn more about how it works.

Since Kiva was founded in 2005:
  • 634,599 Kiva lenders
  • $253 million in loans
  • 98.90% Repayment rate
They work with:
  • 144 Field Partners
  • 450 volunteers around the world
  • 60 different countries

At the Rotary conference I attended a couple of weeks ago I learned how micro-finance works and how it helps people.  Someone might have 5.00 and keep it under their mattress which is very dangerous and makes it very easy to steal.  By providing a bank account lets them keep their money safe and secure.  Field partners go to remote areas with mobile banks!  Some of their clients have never had a piece of ID so they are issued a bank card with their fingerprint on it.  Suddenly, they exist.

Loan officers work with people to help them create small businesses with their loans and make sure the loans are paid back.  They offer business and financial advice and get to know their clients just the same way you would know the people at your own bank branch.

From Kiva...

"Poor people, with access to savings, credit, insurance, and other financial services, are more resilient and better able to cope with the everyday crises they face. Even the most rigorous econometric studies have proven that micro-finance can smooth consumption levels and significantly reduce the need to sell assets to meet basic needs. With access to micro-insurance, poor people can cope with sudden increased expenses associated with death, serious illness, and loss of assets.

Access to credit allows poor people to take advantage of economic opportunities. While increased earnings are by no means automatic, clients have overwhelmingly demonstrated that reliable sources of credit provide a fundamental basis for planning and expanding business activities. Many studies show that clients who join and stay in programs have better economic conditions than non-clients, suggesting that programs contribute to these improvements. A few studies have also shown that over a long period of time many clients do actually graduate out of poverty."

Imagine.  No, really imagine.  Being able to help someone out of poverty at no cost to yourself - you can cash out once the loan is paid back, put the 25.00 back in your own bank account and go on with your life knowing you made a real difference.

Why am I writing about this today?  Well, it's 11 days until Christmas and we are all running around trying to figure out what to give our loved ones - why not give them the gift of giving?  You can buy Kiva gift cards for as little as $25.00 and they lump sum can be used over and over to help people pull themselves out of poverty.  As Oprah would say, it's not a hand out, it's a hand up!  And you get to feel good about doing it!

UPDATE:  If you go to the site you can choose gender, country, industry and find someone you like.  I tend to pick people who just need a little bit of money before they have their full loan so the process gets underway quickly.  I only wish I could write to them and say 'Great job!' but alas, we don't get an address for anyone we lend money too.

Have a fabulous day!


Associate Girl said...

This is truly fascinating. thanks for posting this. Every Christmas I make a donation in memory of my mom, and this is something she would be very proud of.

Bethany said...

Thanks for sharing this opportunity. When I lived in Oaxaca, I worked with ladies involved in microcredit programs and they were so successful! These ladies were able to work for themselves in an economy that is generally not considered as one that is friendly to women or small businesses. Great post!

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful heartfelt post, I had heard of this before but didn't really understand how it worked.

Adrienne said...

I've been meaning to do this for ages but just haven't taken the time to do it. Do you have anyone you're helping right now who still needs loans? It would be great to help the same person/people, if possible. I'll email you....


hostess of the humble bungalow said...

What a great idea!
I'm off to check this site out....

Tariro said...

This is such an amazing idea! nd its amazing to see that people are really being helped, and that impacts are being made.

Vanessa@Luxuria said...

Lovely post.We give a percentage of our profits to Kiva every month, and I get a warm tingly feeling every time I do it.TYSM for raising awareness for this wonderful organisation which teaches people "how" to fish rather than just asking for a fish :-)

TheSocialKnight said...

What an interesting organization! I've never heard of a such an idea before, and only $25! You can just keep relending. I like that. I will certainly look into this! Are there other monetary amounts you can lend?

Also, nice background. Great bloggers think alike ;)

Shelley said...

I've been doing Kiva for a couple of years. I intended to loan $25.00 a month and just treat it like a charity contribution, but I don't always remember every month and for a while my Paypal account was messed up. Still, I have a bit of money out there helping people. It's great fun choosing the recipients. I tend to pick women and if they are a widow, even more likely. I try to fund health and education projects, but they are very rare. After that I go for food industries, but sometimes I do clothing or something fun for a change. One year I studied up on what were the world's poorest countries (I think it was Sierra Leone or something like that) and chose women from there. I love that it's helping people help themselves and now I've learned from you about them having a safe place to keep money and having financial mentors that could potentially teach them enough to pull themselves out. I've lived on the financial edge a number of times - holey socks, only enough for macaroni & cheese boxes but not fresh tomatoes, car with bald tires, no health insurance. It's no fun and I'm grateful for the standard of living I enjoy today. Kiva is one way I can demonstrate that gratitude!

Suburban Princess said...

Great comments everyone! I hope you can all play along or give Kiva as a Christmas gift!

Shelley - thank you so much for sharing that. It's amazing how close we all are to that state. I am happy to hear you are back on your feet!