What if lending money to global entrepreneurs was as fun as Facebook?
And as easy?
And it made a difference in developing communities?
It is, with Kiva.
What is Kiva? Kiva is a way that people like you and I can lend small amounts of money – as little as $25 – to people around the world who are creating opportunity for themselves and their communities.
How does it work? My $25 goes through Kiva to a microfinance organization in a country of my choosing. That organization gives my $25, together with your $25 and some other people’s $25, to an entrepreneur with a small business – maybe a mechanic’s shop, a farm, or food shop. That entrepreneur pays the money back slowly, and I get my $25 back, and you, and those other people do too. Then you take it out or repeat.
Kiva provides people around the world with a way to do meaningful work to support themselves, their families, and their communities. It provides them access to small amounts of capital which they wouldn’t otherwise get from their financial institutions or their friends and families, the way that we might. That’s enough in and of itself, but there’s more.
It’s so fun! You can link Kiva to your social network, so you can celebrate with your friends – like Greg and Lindsay and Pearl – when they make a new loan or get a repayment. You can be on a lending team, like we are at the Ian Martin Group, and work together to increase your pool of loans. You can recruit friends with “free” loans so that they can try it out (the loans are funded by angel donors). And if you’re nerdy like me, you can track your Kiva metrics against the averages of other users. In fact, Kiva’s most recent statistics tell a fascinating story of global impact:
Another thing that I love about Kiva is that you choose your loans – and you can make that really fun. You can give loans to causes or people that matter to you. My mom lends to agricultural businesses, because that’s important to her. Some of my other family lend to Latin American loans because that’s where they were born. I lend to people with my name because I think it’s cool that I share this one thing in common with all these women from around the world (like Luz, Noemi Luz, Luz Adriana, Maria Luz, Alba Luz, Luz Elena, and the ladies of Luz de Luna Brillante Group*). You can give to remote areas, Arab youth, nearly complete loans, random loans, group loans, to loans with higher repayment scores or lower ones, with a social justice focus or a focus on empowering women, or an eco focus – or just about any other sort of focus that you connect with.
But don’t take my word for it. Try it yourself.
* Luz is a Spanish name and also the literal word for light. I pronounce it “LOOTH” and I’m a woman, even though lots of my correspondence from new candidates comes for Mr. Iglesias 😉