Become a Micro-Loaner on Kiva

I’ve been meaning to mention Kiva for months. I was reminded by Bill Clinton’s recent remarks on giving (MP3) at a Slate 60 event.

If you haven’t heard of Kiva, they’re a game-changer:

Kiva lets you connect with and loan money to unique small businesses in the developing world. By choosing a business on, you can “sponsor a business” and help the world’s working poor make great strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates from the business you’ve sponsored. As loans are repaid, you get your loan money back.

Kiva was recently featured on Oprah, and in three days all of their small business loan requests were filled. Thus far, they’ve brokered US $13 million in loans between the developed and developing world. It’s an elegant idea–a shift away from traditional giving–and one I really admire.

I’m now a proud investor in Tchabouwe Sibabe. He’s got a 29-year-old father of one who runs a phone repair shop in Togo. He’s trying to raise $1200 to outfit his shop. Why did I pick him? Everybody’s criteria will vary, but I figured that:

  • He’s young, so my investment will go farther.
  • By fixing phones, he’ll support other local businesses.
  • He could, down the road, become an employer.
  • He’s got a family, so my investment doesn’t just help Tchabouwe, but the people around him as well.

Pack Your Lunch Next Week

If you usually eat out for lunch, pack your lunch this week. Take the money you save and loan it to Tchabouwe, or one of the many other worthy individuals on the site. Or rent a DVD instead of going to the movies this weekend, and loan the difference.

The nice thing about Kiva is that once my loan is paid back, I’ll just roll it into another entrepreneur. Donating money is great, but Kiva enables you to literally give the gift that keeps on giving.

UPDATE: Wow, that was fast. Tchabouwe’s loan is complete at $1200. I don’t know that this site had much to do with that–I think Kiva’s just processing an incredible (and wonderful) volume of giving at the moment. Thanks to anybody who did contribute to Tchabouwe’s loan.


  1. Kiva is hard to resist – especially when you log in and the first thing you see is a table comparing the number of loans you’ve made against the number of loans the average Kiva user has made. It worked on me!

    My first loan (to wife of a Guatamalan carpenter) is 11% repaid. She needed the money to buy three horses to deliver the tables her hsuband makes.

    At least with Kiva, I feel that my money is being put to good use. Plus I don’t feel resentful and obliged to do it like I do when faced by some pushy street charity collector.

  2. Norlinda: From Kiva’s Risk and Due Diligence page:

    “Of the $1,830,160 of loans with completed loan terms, the default rate is 0.3%. However, past repayment performance does not guarantee future results. When you lend money, you may lose all or some of your principal. You should be aware of the different types of risk and find the right loan option for you, with respect to repayment risk and social return.”

    I only loaned $50, so it’s money I can afford to lose. Still, that risk is so close to zero that I wouldn’t worry about it.

  3. Thanks Darren. I too have been looking into alternate ways to donate money other than going to non-profits. I started meeting and helping immigrants who are actively trying to improve the lot of those they’ve left behind—the elderly are often forgotten, esp if they live in little rural pockets with no social medicine programs.

  4. My first loan with Kiva actually just completed a couple days ago. I loaned to a young woman who is supporting her family with a clothing shop.

    It’s nice to see who I’m helping, and I’m glad that she was able to pay off the loan. If she hadn’t though, my portion was only $25.

    It’s been a good experience with Kiva, and I hope your loan goes well too. Good luck!

  5. Hi Darren (any relation to Derek Barefoot, by chance?),
    I started with one loan last month and was going to wait until this month to help fund another, but I couldn’t wait! Yes, this can be addicting. And I, too, was surprised at how quickly the loan was funded.

  6. I’ve been loaning to Kiva for months (I’ve got a link on my sidebar which seems to get quite a few click-throughs, actually) and I think this has got to be one of the best programs out there for people in countries with little opportunity otherwise. I’m totally thrilled we’re helping those help themselves.

  7. This website online is mostly a walk-by for all the info you wanted about this and didn’t know who to ask. Glimpse here, and also you’ll positively uncover it.

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