For Christmas my daughter had given me a Kiva gift certificate. If you're like me, I had never heard of Kiva. Here is some info from their website on how it works:
Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.
Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs around the globe.
The people you see on Kiva's site are real individuals in need of funding - not marketing material. When you browse entrepreneurs' profiles on the site, choose someone to lend to, and then make a loan, you are helping a real person make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their family, and their community. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates and track repayments. Then, when you get your loan money back, you can relend to someone else in need.
Kiva partners with existing expert microfinance institutions. In doing so, we gain access to outstanding entrepreneurs from impoverished communities world-wide. Our partners are experts in choosing qualified entrepreneurs. That said, they are usually short on funds. Through Kiva, our partners upload their entrepreneur profiles directly to the site so you can lend to them. When you do, not only do you get a unique experience connecting to a specific entrepreneur on the other side of the planet, but our microfinance partners can do more of what they do, more efficiently.
Kiva provides a data-rich, transparent lending platform. We are constantly working to make the system more transparent to show how money flows throughout the entire cycle, and what effect it has on the people and institutions lending it, borrowing it, and managing it along the way. To do this, we are using the power of the internet to facilitate one-to-one connections that were previously prohibitively expensive. Child sponsorship has always been a high overhead business. Kiva creates a similar interpersonal connection at much lower costs due to the instant, inexpensive nature of internet delivery. The individuals featured on our website are real people who need a loan and are waiting for socially-minded individuals like you to lend them money.
Isn't that cool ? I think our government and lending institutions could take notes from KIVA on "transparency of lending". After looking at many profiles, here is who I chose to support with my gift certificate:
Beatrice Etrue is the 40-year-old divorced mother of four children, two currently in senior high school, one in junior high and one in primary school. She lives with her children in a rented apartment in the fishing community of Elmina, one of the country’s tourist attraction centres, near Cape Coast in the Central Region of Ghana. For the past ten years, Beatrice has worked hard as a trader to earn some income to support the family. She deals in all kinds of drinks – malt, fan milk, fan ice, etc., procuring them from wholesale dealers in the regional capital, Cape Coast, and selling in the community market. Beatrice also distributes to other retailers in her community and nearby communities. She is now requesting a loan to procure the products in bulk.
When Beatrice repays my loan, I can then loan it out again to someone else. It is such a neat organization with 100% of the loans going to the loan recipients. People helping people....the way it should be. I was so touched when my daughter gave me this...I have always emphasized with my kids that Christmas is not about presents and monetary things. I feel most holidays have gotten way too commercialized but if we want it to change, it has to begin with us.
Since my 83 yr. old mom has her own candy and jelly making business, my daughter loaned a woman bakery entrepreneur money, in my mom's name, through the KIVA organization. What a wonderful legacy ......to fulfill someone's dreams of owning a business. ...the same kind of business we have been fortunate to own.
I encourage you to check out their web site and see what a positive impact you can make on someone's life....http://www.kiva.org