Didn’t know that, did you? I have loans out in Ecuador, Ghana, and one of those former Soviet countries that ends in “-iztan” and sounds like somebody coughing. I make the loans through Kiva, a micro-lending agency that is doing some of the most empowering, noble, and honorable work in the world today. I hope you’ll bookmark the link below, explore it, and maybe even get involved:
Kiva is a non-profit agency in California that, in turn, works with community groups around the world who identify small business people who don’t qualify for traditional bank loans. $750 to $1500 are typically sized loans. The local community group charges a fair interest rate- about 8.5%- which is far below the traditional interest rates in these countries. Kiva puts people like me together with other people like me, to arrange specific loans to specific people. Here’s the recipient of the first loan I made, back in January:
Grace Atteh sells dried fish in Ghana. Kiva put together the loans of 16 people from around the world (New South Wales and Victoria in Australia, Indiana, California, Virginia, New York, Florida, and Jacksboro, Texas) so that Grace could get her loan of $725 to expand her business. The loan was made in February, and she has paid back half of it so far. In two years of operation, Kiva has a 100% payback rate!
I can get my part of that loan back from Kiva when it is paid in full, or, I can let it ride and lend it to someone else. I will let it ride. And I will be adding to the loans I make through Kiva. Here’s the reasons why:
1. These are not handouts to poor people. These are hands up to people who don’t want to be poor anymore.
2. The dignity of the people receiving and paying back loans is not only kept intact, it is enhanced.
3. Kiva was started by a person from Paypal, the on-line bank. Paypal continues to move money around the world for Kiva at no charge. The community organizations who handle the loans are the ones who receive the interest on these loans. Nobody is getting wealthy on the backs of poor people here!
4. Each recipient knows a little about the people and the home countries who have enabled them to receive their loans. “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me” go the true words of the old campfire song. And it is true.
5. I go to bed at night feeling like a miniature Warren Buffet. Cool..
It is a remarkable website because is a remarkable organization. Take some time to explore it. Then join me in the marketplace of an African village, or in the barn of a young farmer in an eastern European country neither of us can pronounce. We can compare our portfolios.