I've been having fun helping others through an organization called Kiva.org. Kiva enables people to make micro-loans, as little as $25.00, to others around the world. The loans help people in developing countries to start up or expand small businesses. For a cute and short video that explains how this works, click here. The key concept is that anyone with $25.00 to spare can loan. In this internet age, anyone, not just the super wealthy man or woman, can be a philanthropist.
My first $25.00 Kiva loan was through an anonymous donor, who actually financed the loan and will receive the repayment. But the anonymous donor allowed others to choose the recipients. I chose Dinina Yuli from Peru. Through Kiva she received $1,125.00 to buy groceries to stock her grocery store, a little business that she has on Sundays. This loan is 50% repaid, although, like I said, the repayment goes to the actual donor of the money.
It felt so good to help Dinina Yuli, I was hooked! I began to look for someone to loan my own hard-earned cash to. I discovered Saadiya from Iraq, who needed just $50.00 to get full funding for a loan request of $1,500 toward her beauty salon. I decided I could spare that much cash to help a woman trying to help her family in a war-torn country.
I just received my first repayment today, a total of 8% of the loan. It should take about 14 more months to receive full repayment. When I do, I plan to loan this money again.
We in the United States are fortunate. The world is a harsh place, people struggle, and this is a way to make it a little bit better, one person and one loan at a time. If you would like a free trial through an anonymous donor to get started like I did, click here, and make a loan while the offer lasts.
**One caveat if you are loaning your own funds: there are risks to this kind of lending, so it is important to choose
carefully and to consider your funds a true gift if for some reason
they are not repaid. Kiva's website lays out the potential pitfalls if
you read all the details carefully before you loan.
**Update on 9/20/12: Dinina Yuli has fallen in arrears on her repayment for some reason. She's still repaying, according to the website; she's behind schedule, though. This is the money that is going back to the anonymous donor. I hope he or she doesn't mind!
Saadiya has repaid me 25% of the money I loaned her. i.e. $12.50, in good faith. I wonder how her life and her beauty business has changed with the generator she bought? I wish there were some way of knowing! I'm hoping that the very act of her repaying us means that she's doing better than she was before, and that the generator has been an improvement to her life.