Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.
Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world.
I got introduced to Kiva via a blog I read, www.theroadtothehorizon.org
- a site by an engineer who joined the UNHCR and writes about aid and development (a good site to read to get one's horizons widened and one's perspective adjusted).
Kiva's principle is simple, aggregate normal people, who can perhaps only contribute a small amount (amounts start at $25), to offer microcredit to people all over the developing world, via existing microcredit organisations.
on a personal note last week when I was feeling quite worried (still no job, savings decreasing, can't decide what to do, take a 'lesser' job, try to go self employed, ah poor me!) I went and lent 2x$25 to people, and frankly it reminded me that I am far far far from poor. Here are their stories:
Rosa is 40 years old and lives in the Laureles Norte section of the capital, Managua. She is married and has three children in grade school, ages 2, 7 and 12. She hopes to offer her family, her children, a bright future and to leave them an inheritance. Rosa has a small business selling homemade food. She has ten years experience in customer service, and would like to improve her business, expanding it and increasing sales by offering new types of food. In order to increase her income and sales, Rosa plans to invest this loan in new products and appliances, such as staples and perishable items for food preparation, a grill, and new tables and chairs to provide for and attract new customers.
Silvia is 55 years old and lives in the Laureles Norte neighborhood of the capital, Managua. She is a single mother with four grown children. Thanks be to God, she has been able to help her children to prosper and has started her own business, a guest house. Silvia hopes to leave her family something worth inheriting. In addition to the guest house, she also sells cosmetics retail and on credit. For the past ten years she has rented a room to bring in more income and to help herself financially. Her goals are to expand and buy new product lines. Thanks to loans from Afodenic she has been able to buy products such as perfume, lipstick, nail polish, shoes and silver jewelry, generating higher profits and offering her clients better and a greater variety of products.
The site is extremely simple to join and use, create a basic profile, browse entrepreneurs by type, country etc., and make your loan. Payments are over paypal.
My oldest loan is less than a month old so I do not know much about what kind of information one might get from the lenders in the long run, but I did get a fairly generic email from each of the organisations about the loan and its recipient, and I assume I will get more.
It feels quite good to be able to do something that feels *useful* - although I find it very hard to choose between all the people. They are all tales of courage, self reliance and dignity, and of lives much different from our own (I remember the old grandmother whose children are all dead and who is working to get all her orphaned grandchildren a future)
Because these are loans, you do get your money refunded eventually, which you can take out or re-lend.
I like the spirit - and I'm planning to lend a further $50 in the next month, probably in Africa this time around.
PS: I would be quite happy to join a donationcoder group if others are also on kiva, make donations in the name of cody
- here's my profile http://www.kiva.org/lender/iphigenie