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  • Thursday, April 10, 2008

    Check this out...

    For my 40th, I got an unusual kind of gift certificate. It was from Kiva

    I had never heard of it before, but the certificate had a photo of a woman standing with some fruit, and it read "loans that change lives."

    Turns out that Kiva is an online microfinance lending organization. Basically, what you do is fund a small loan to an entrepreneur in the developing world (who is partnered with a local "field partner" -- an organization which assesses the business, loan risk, etc.). The entrepreneur then repays the loan under certain terms and conditions (I don't know if interest is paid to the lender or if it gets donated to Kiva or someone else). When the loan is repaid, it comes back to your account so that you can re-lend, donate or keep it. Kiva does not take a cut of the loan.

    Here's Kiva's outreach blurb (for emailing to friends):

    I wanted to let you know about Kiva (www.kiva.org), a non-profit that allows you to lend as little as $25 to a specific low-income entrepreneur in the developing world.

    You choose who to lend to - whether a baker in Afghanistan, a goat herder in Uganda, a farmer in Peru, a restaurateur in Cambodia, or a tailor in Iraq - and as they repay their loan, you get your money back. It’s a powerful and sustainable way to empower someone right now to lift themselves out of poverty.
    So far, I've lent $125 -- $50 to a woman who sells souvenirs in Samoa, $50 to a woman who owns/runs a food stall in Paraguay and $25 (that's all they needed on their loan) to a group of women selling charcoal in Tanzania. I'll let you know in a few months how it's going.

    don't know that you or I will get rich making these loans -- and, more than likely, neither will the entrepreneur on the other end of the loan. But it's still a cool way to make a difference across the world.

    Check it out.

    Kiva - loans that change lives


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