I am fortunate to have friends and acquaintances who are smarter and more advanced than me, in many things. Recently, one of these acquaintances turned me on to Kiva. To be fair, a very dear friend of mine showed me this organization several years ago, but as with many things, it got lost in the hustle and bustle of my life.
I spent some time going through the Kiva website and I liked what I saw. In a nutshell, Kiva allows a lender to loan as little as $25 (microfinancing) to entrepreneurs in developing countries. That money is used by the entrepreneurs to further themselves and their families and is repaid on a pre-determined schedule. Once the loan is paid back, the lender has the full amount returned to them, to do with what they will.
What a great concept. I love the idea that I chose where my money goes (I pick my entrepreneur). I also like the idea that the person receiving the funds will use it and repay it; this motivates them to succeed. To quote the Kiva website: “The poor are highly motivated and can be very successful when given an opportunity”. Call me naïve, but I believe this. I think that many of the poor in developing countries are not that way by choice; they are that way by circumstance. What a great opportunity for me, who can afford the nice things in life, to make a real difference.
It is not a handout, but a hand-up. What a refreshing idea – making a difference through accountability.