Kiva.org – Loans that change lives
Public service announcement. Last spring I was introduced to Kiva.org by Bill Stevenson at Lenovo, the gentleman who manages the company’s social responsibility activities. Bill was passionate about Kiva — sort of the Napster of philanthropy and micro-finance. Here’s how it works. You go to Kiva.org, you open an account, you transfer $25 into your account, you review the loan applications from
hundreds dozens of people in emerging markets, select one, and loan them the money
They pay you back, via Kiva, and once the loan is done, you get the money back in your account and then you can re-loan it to another entrepreneur.
Here’s who my loan is supporting, Lily Kindeka Biyela. She borrowed $1,000. I lent her $25
“Lily is 44 years old and a mother of two children, and she takes care of three others. Lily began her business in 1992. Over the years, Lily has acquired solid experience selling both kitchen utensils and charcoal. Through her determination and hard work, she has been able to build a loyal customer base that has begun to pre-order utensils. Lily is asking for a loan of $1000 to help increase her working capital and buy additional goods. This will enable her to generate additional profits, which will allow her business to grow and change.”
Lily has paid back half of my loan already. I think this is cool and regard Kiva as one of the most important web applications I have ever seen.
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Bill Stevenson is a pay-it-forward kind of guy. He turned me on to Kiva as well, and I’ve done two loans; one for $25 and one for $75. I just love getting the e-mails saying a payment has been made — not because I’m getting my crummy twenty five bucks back (hell, I’ve lost that much in change under my car seats) — but because the mere repayment of a few dollars on a $25 loan tells me that the loan recipient is being able to change her life and that of her family. I did my first Kiva on my birthday, and my second when my husband and I were kvetching because there was some expensive toy we wanted but couldn’t justify in our budget. It was a dose of perspective we badly needed. We intend, now, to make it an annual ritual as our wedding anniversary gift to each other to sponsor a new Kiva recipient. I just love Kiva, can you tell??
David … this is cool. I tried to sign up at got the following message:
Due to a recent surge in support ignited by viewers of the Oprah Winfrey Show and readers of President Clinton’s newly released book Giving, there is currently a shortage of businesses in need of loans. The Kiva.org staff and our Field Partners are working overtime to get more businesses on the website. In the meantime, thank you for your patience!
Obviously not a bad thing! I’ll just wait til there’s more need out there.
Well I was feeling pretty good about having recruited Dave and Lisa, but then Bill and Oprah put me to shame by breaking the system. If only I had THAT much influence!