Kiva.org

Last night as I was getting ready for bed Dan said he had found the most awesome website ever. I hurried to see, thinking he’d found some hilarious video or something. What he showed me was http://kiva.org. Although it is not hilarious, it is truly amazing.

From their “about” page:

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.

But this is a very dry description and doesn’t convey the happy feeling of working with Kiva. When you go to their site and click the “Lend” button, you’ll be taken to a list of entrepreneurs in developing countries who need a small (and I mean small) loan to help improve their businesses. For instance, a fellow in Mexico might need $500 to improve his grocery store. You can sort through the businesses to select a certain kind of business, or a certain country, or whatever. You’ll see a photo of the business-person, and a description of his or her plans for the loan. You’ll see how much money has been donated toward the goal, and how much is still lacking. At the bottom of the page, you’ll see the names and locations of people who’ve helped with that loan.

Click the “Lend” button and you can pick an amount to lend (as small as $25) through PayPal. PayPal does NOT take a cut! This is the first non-profit to get this special treatment from PayPal.

You’ll create an account with Kiva, and you’ll have a portfolio showing what you’ve lent, when it will be paid back, etc. You’ll also have a Lender Page, like ours, that can be viewed by other Kiva participants. If you click Carolyne‘s name at the bottom of our page there, you can see that we were the first to lend to her business last night. By morning, the entire amount of her loan had been raised! As we were browsing around on the site last night, we kept an eye on her page and it was so exciting to see other lenders joining us to help her!

I think one of the most important aspects of Kiva is that it’s so much fun. Dan and I stayed up WAY too late last night poking around on the site, choosing businesses to lend to, clicking the profiles of other lenders. That’s how we found our second lendee (is that a word?). We clicked on the profile of “Jim“, the second lender to Carolyne. We saw that he’d lent to Peter, and that that loan was not yet fully funded, so we lent to Peter too. There’s a nice sense of community. Also instant gratification — the amount you lend is reflected immediately. Also the pleasure of being able to see a photo of the person you’re helping — a real live person, not some impersonal faceless charity — and to feel that your small donation can really make a huge difference!

The site is a little bit slow right now. Frontline did a story on Kiva a few days ago, and the resulting rush of lenders took their servers down :) They’re still working on improvements to handle the increased load. Here’s a link to the Frontline page, http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/uganda601/video_index.html

And an easy guide to getting started with Kiva: http://kiva.org/app.php?page=about&action=how

(Or just look in my sidebar for the Kiva banner and click the photo!)

More info: Wikipedia: Kiva

Category: Blog 5 comments »

5 Responses to “Kiva.org”

  1. Kathy

    awesome!

  2. Chloe

    Wow, that sounds really cool!

  3. kara

    It is, indeed, cool and awesome! If you have $25 lying around you should go lend it to someone! It’s a very fun and satisfying experience :)

  4. Tim

    Thank you for this post on Kiva. You are a shining example of how connecting to something so worthwhile can be so practical and easy! You’ve also discovered our newly deployed social networking functionality. Now lenders, who choose to do so, can make their profiles public, showcasing their loans and loan statuses. Our borrowers can also see where their individual loans are coming from; imagine how this strengthens the relationship and community! Loaners who share the same affinity (like geography) can begin an amazing dialogue in this initiative. Thanks for you support of Kiva!

    Regards,

    Tim (volunteer with Kiva.org)
    tim@kivavolunteers.org

  5. bruce k wright

    i too saw frontline. i was homeless and hopeless myself at one time, and got a hand up. i don’t make alot of money, but extending myself for a few hundred dollars is great when i see how far that goes for people in less fortunate nations. at the same time though, we should not forget about the people that live right in our own neighborhoods.


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