I’m very fortunate. Sure, Josée and I work hard but we’ve had some breaks and helping hands as well. One of the ways we give back to our community is through Kiva. Some of you may be familiar with this micro-finance site. Since its inception in 2005, Kiva has helped over 800,000 small businesses access about $350 million in capital. Most of these businesses are family run with just one or two employees and many are located in ‘non-Western’ countries. The premise behind Kiva is very simple: you use the site to find someone who wants to borrow capital to improve life for their family, usually through a small business; along with other Kiva users you loan money (usually $25) to the person you select; they re-pay you over a certain term, usually 12-24 months; you re-loan the money to someone else. Unlike borrowers in North America, many of whom declare bankruptcy to avoid their debt, Kiva borrowers repay their loans. To date, the repayment rate is 98.96%.
I like Kiva because I can learn about people around the world who are starting or improving a small business. They are just like you and I – working, supporting their families and trying to improve their lives. Some of the success stories are phenomenal and it is gratifying to see people flourish just by getting a small helping hand in the form of access to capital. I like Kiva because the money goes directly to the end borrower. In addition to your loan, you can donate to help Kiva operate but it isn’t a requirement. Operationally, Kiva is very efficient unlike some of large global charities where most donated money is used just to finance the organization. If you want to create your own ‘bank’, lend a helping hand to families around the world and then do it all over again, I encourage you to check out Kiva.
To start your ‘bank’ with a free $25, click here; if you want some help setting up your KIVA site, just let me know.