Several years ago my daughter surprised me with a Christmas gift that has become one of the most meaningful I have ever received--a gift card to Kiva. Kiva? It is likely you've never heard of this organization. I was curious when I opened the envelope because at the time neither had I.
Founded in 2005, Kiva is "a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty." The way it works is simple. You can loan as little as $25 to any of hundreds of people around the planet running tiny businesses to support their families. Right now I'm helping Eva in the Philippines and Halima in Pakistan. Both are mothers of three children and needed more inventory for their general stores. Eva someday wants to send her kids to college.
Every time repayment in my lending "bucket" reaches the $25 mark (you are notified by email each time a payment is made) I go to the Kiva website and look for someone else to assist. At this moment there are 3779 lending opportunities available, sorted six different ways to help your decision. You can also focus on a particular country if you wish. I particularly enjoy finding a situation where my loan gets a person to 100% funding.
I'm one of 1,175,451 individuals who has provided micro-financing (total loans, which can be funded by multiple lenders, are often only $100 to $200) of $565,201,650 to aspiring entrepreneurs in 75 countries. These might seem like high risk loans, but amazingly the repayment rate over the entire nine years of Kiva's existence is 98.86%.
Why? Every penny of your money goes to folks with no access to traditional banking systems who are anxious to create opportunity for themselves and others. Plain and simple, the gratitude for receiving assistance in their effort drives them to repay this kindness no matter what.
Anything we can do for the less fortunate among us is admirable. As a former small business owner this particular concept speaks to my heart. I've thus far assisted individuals and groups in seven countries and look forward to many more. Kiva calls its program "loans that change lives" and my personal involvement has been a special blessing.
I encourage you to put as little as $25 to work lending a helping hand. Go to Kiva's website and find someone's personal story that speaks to you. I guarantee you'll be glad you did.