I often read articles I find on the internet. I try to read a variety of things so I can learn as much as possible, and also to keep things interesting. I share many of these articles with my children. One thing I read about a few years ago was an organization called Kiva. I looked into it, and was happy with what I read. They seem to be a very legitimate organization, and I like their mission. Basically, people make loans to individuals or small businesses around the world. Anyone can be a lender, and the minimum investment is only $25 plus a few dollars for operational costs. Multiple lenders’ funds are pooled together for each borrower to be fully funded. They have a surprisingly high repayment rate. The reasons for the loans can be anything from needing an education or a safe place to live, to funding a business. No matter the reason, the end result is a better life for the borrower. I love some of the phrases they use, such as “empower people around the world with a $25 loan”, and “loans that change lives”.
You can get more information at http://www.kiva.org/ to see if you’d like to participate. One thing many potential lenders might appreciate is the option to pick a borrower based on several different categories. Some of the choices are location, type of borrower (including groups or individuals), and reason for the loan. You can even specify certain attributes such as a ‘green’ loan.
So far, we’ve made two loans. The first borrower has been paying on time, and the loan is more than half repaid. We just made our second loan recently. It feels good to help people, and I think the lessons to my children alone would be well worth the investment! The children, my husband and I have already decided that all repaid funds will be lent again to other borrowers, which is one of the options. I let the children choose the borrowers. Right now, we have a cattle farmer in Tajikistan, and a banana farmer in Guatemala. I was able to add a little bit about geography in there when we were making our decisions.
I always wanted to find a way to really help someone, but never thought I could do much with my limited resources. I was very excited to find out about Kiva, and am so happy to be able to change lives, and also involve my children in that wonderful experience. I encourage all of you to visit their website and read a little bit about how you, too, can make a difference in the world!