I've discovered a new outlet for making a difference in the lives of others. Two magazines this month have had mentions of this group (AARP and one of my National Geographic mags). The organization is called Kiva.
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.
The people you see on Kiva's site are real individuals in need of funding - not marketing material. When you browse entrepreneurs' profiles on the site, choose someone to lend to, and then make a loan, you are helping a real person make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their family, and their community. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates and track repayments. Then, when you get your loan money back, you can relend to someone else in need.
Kiva partners with existing expert microfinance institutions. In doing so, we gain access to outstanding entrepreneurs from impoverished communities world-wide. Our partners are experts in choosing qualified entrepreneurs. That said, they are usually short on funds. Through Kiva, our partners upload their entrepreneur profiles directly to the site so you can lend to them. When you do, not only do you get a unique experience connecting to a specific entrepreneur on the other side of the planet, but our microfinance partners can do more of what they do, more efficiently.
Kiva provides a data-rich, transparent lending platform. We are constantly working to make the system more transparent to show how money flows throughout the entire cycle, and what effect it has on the people and institutions lending it, borrowing it, and managing it along the way. To do this, we are using the power of the internet to facilitate one-to-one connections that were previously prohibitively expensive. Child sponsorship has always been a high overhead business. Kiva creates a similar interpersonal connection at much lower costs due to the instant, inexpensive nature of internet delivery. The individuals featured on our website are real people who need a loan and are waiting for socially-minded individuals like you to lend them money.
I made a loan to an entrepreneur named Chhin Sun in Cambodia. Mrs. Chhin Sun was born in 1974 and she lives in Samraong Village in Kampong Cham Province. She is a vegetable farmer who owns 2 hectares for cultivating. In her plantation, she faces a small problem because her field is infertile soil which affects her crop, so she decided to ask for a loan to buy fertilizer to amend her field to make her plants more productive. Her husband, Mr. Chhun Tith, helps his wife in the plantation. Mrs. Chhin Sun has two children who are both attending the local school.
Care to join me in changing the world - one loan at a time?
What others are saying about http://www.kiva.org/:
'Revolutionising how donors and lenders in the US are connecting with small entrepreneurs in developing countries.'
'If you've got 25 bucks, a PC and a PayPal account, you've now got the wherewithal to be an international financier.'
-- CNN Money
'An inexpensive feel-good investment opportunity...All loaned funds go directly to the applicants, and most loans are repaid in full.'
-- Entrepreneur Magazine