I got started on one of my New Year’s Resolutions by setting up a Kiva account.
For those of you who don’t know, Kiva is a website where you can loan money to people in developing countries that are starting businesses, or buying some new furniture, or getting medicine for their kids. Basically anything that someone could want money for.
The loan amounts are quite small, often less than $1000, but that can mean a lot of buying power when its changed into the local currency.
The person or group who received the loan uses it for whatever they said and then pays it back over a year or two. The loan usually helps them to pay it back by funding an expansion of their small business or allowing their kids to go to school to get higher paying jobs.
Every potential loan on Kiva has a picture of the person or group of people receiving the loan and a translated statement describing what they’ll be doing with the money.
When you select a loan you give a multiple of $25 that will be repaid. The people receiving loans do pay interest, but the profit on the loan is kept by the company that manages the loan.
Kiva isn’t the bank that manages the loans. They’re just a middleman between the funder and the bank. There are hundreds of microfinance banks that work with Kiva to find people to fund the loans.
Strangely, in most cases the bank has already funded the loan before the loan is posted on Kiva. The people who fund the loan (me) are covering the costs of the loan after the fact. That way if the group receiving the money defaults, the bank hasn’t lost anything and can continue offering microfinance loans without worrying about turning a profit.
So far I’ve made eight loans. One to a group of men in Burkina Faso to buy some sheep and chickens. One to a teacher in Haiti to connect his house to a solar power grid. A woman in Costa Rica for her to buy carpentry tools. Two groups of women in India and a woman in Timor-Leste to buy supplies for their stores. A man in Mongolia to keep his taxi running in the winter. Lastly, a man in the Dominican Republic to buy some meat for his butcher shop.
If you take a look at the links you can see that some of the information statements aren’t translated as well as you’d like. It’s still great to see the face of the person I’m loaning the money to regardless!
I’d encourage you to check out Kiva for yourself. Click on this link to sign up today!