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 Kiva.org, 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.