A Big Hand for the Little Loan

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KIVA .What do they do? Well, have you heard of micro-loans, micro-finance? You know, a bank or a group gives a small loan to someone, usually in a developing nation, so she or he can start a business, become self-sufficient, and get out of poverty?  That’s the basic mission of this group. And it’s an important one. Microfinance is vital in a lot of places where getting even a small loan is impossible if you’re impoverished. Poor people end up in a Catch 22: can’t make money without a loan, can’t get a loan without money.

Enter microlending and groups like Kiva. With Kiva, you get to be the bank. You pick an entrepreneur you want to help- see their pictures, read their stories, and see how much they want to borrow and specifically what they intend to do with that loan.  Kiva has a fairly simply interface to make the selection process rather easy. 

To me, Kiva represents the “drop in the bucket” concept pretty succinctly:  one person helping one person by do one thing. And when you multiply it times — who knows how many-  what a huge difference that can make.

So, this got me thinking that this concept of microfinance is worth a few more links. I looked up some other stuff that may be of further interest to readers.  The first is the page for Grameen Finance  run by Muhammad Yunus the Bangladeshi man who won a Nobel Prize for his micro-loan work. The second is a page for the group ACCION, which is another micro-finance group , started in Brazil, but with an office right here in Massachusetts and branches all over the world. Check them as you like.

Kiva also got me thinking about the concept of  entrepreneurship, about inititative and determination – people pursuing goals, dreams and ambitions. I suddenly realized a lot of people I know who are doing things like this: running small businesses or trying to start them, working on creative projects while they have day jobs– pursuing dreams. You impress me.  (Well, some of you do at least…heh.)

Bottom line, check out kiva.

Thanks for reading.

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One thought on “A Big Hand for the Little Loan

  1. I’m a fan of Kiva too, glad to see it plugged. (As with anything microfinance has its lovers and critics. To me, it seems one of many potentially useful tools that can help folks improve their lives and country).

    One idea- Last Christmas, I gave Kiva gift certificates to my nieces and nephew (in addition to toys/ candy/ etc), so (with parental help) they each selected out loans they wanted to support (liked the story, photo, place, topic, quick repay, etc) and have since been following recipient updates. We set up a family team so we can see which loans each other supported, how repayment is going, and send each other notes about it. One of the loans was repaid quickly, so that niece soon supported another loan. So far, it seems both useful to the recipient and as a learning forum (sharing/ helping, financial mgmt/ economics/ business, geography/ issues in ours and other countries, etc). I queried their parents in advance re their interest in facilitating the process and whether the kids were old enough to “get” it. The process is a bit slowmoving, can be hard to stay engaged. Its early, but so far so good with this family experiment.

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