A while back, I was introduced to Kiva.org. Now while Kiva.org may not have a direct impact on my community in Scottsdale, Arizona, its reach helps thousands of people all over the globe $25 at a time.
Kiva’s main mission is microlending and microfinance. Kiva’s tagline is “Loans that Change Lives” and these loans truly make a difference to individuals and small groups of entrepreneurs internationally who may not have had access to capital to move their businesses forward.
How it works: Individual donors or teams of donors from all over the world go to Kiva and find entrepreneurs who they would like to support and fund. Once they have selected these folks or groups, they make a payment to Kiva and Kiva in turn works with the Field Partner in the given geographical area to disburse the funded loans. The Field Partners are then in charge of collecting the repayments and getting them back to Kiva.
One of the most attractive features of Kiva is that you can help fund an entrepreneur with as little as $25 dollars. And, since this is a loan, you can reasonably expect to get your money back. (Note: Unfortunately, some entrepreneurs do end up defaulting, but those numbers are very small and you are able to review the success rate of the Field Partners prior to lending.)
What I like is that as I get paid back, I am then able to fund new entrepreneurs so my initial funds are being be reused over and over again. Plus, you can always add funds as you go. And, if you decide you want to take your funds elsewhere, you do have the opportunity to “cash out” and get your money back.
Kiva allows you to select your entrepreneurs based on many criteria including gender, geographical area, whether they are an individual or a group looking for funding, as well as the type of project you will be funding. Loan amounts can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars based upon the project being funded and all of the entrepreneurs are vetted prior to receiving funds. It is amazing how much of an impact these loans can have.
Each person or group has a page where you can read about them and what they plan to do with the loan and how it will be paid back. For instance, you can help a female in Bolivia purchase new products for her market stand. Or, you can assist a group of cobblers in Tanzania buy a sewing machine to expand their business to include shoe repair. The funding opportunities are endless and very inspiring. As you help these entrepreneurs, they in turn can help their families and by extension their communities.
Kiva recently introduced the ability to fund student loans. Now students can get financial assistance and empower themselves via Kiva as well.
Since Kiva is a non-profit, you are also able to make a charitable donation to their operations when you are processing your loans. It is just another way to give back.
Once you have funded a loan or two, you can log in to check on the progress of the loan and the repayments. It is really great to see the people you have selected and their businesses thrive with the new funding.
If you think Kiva would be of interest to you or you just want to learn more about it, I recommend visiting the website at Kiva.org.