An update on my investment in KIVA.org...
This wonderful organization allows people like me to make a small loan to a person or a family in a country where they struggle to find food and fresh water each day. So far, I've made 21 loans to a variety of people living in 15 different countries. I loan $25 to each person that I've chosen to assist. KIVA suggests that we spread our loan money around between several clients, rather than loaning all of it to one or two entrepreneurs, thus cutting the risk of losing the money, if one of those people cannot pay back their loan.
This is one of the ways that I've chosen to give back. Call it what you want, paying it forward or lending a helping hand...it is a way of giving someone a hand up. It's amazing how little it takes to make a difference in someone's life. A loan of $25 from 20 lenders can give a family 3 goats and 2 calves to start a livestock herd, giving them an additional livelihood and some food for the whole family.
It's a humbling feeling to be a part of this organization. We take so much for granted in this country, where we have so much...and waste so much...on a daily basis. Here are a few of my clients who are working to pay back their loans:
Yusuf Khudayarov, a 45 year old man who lives with his family in Beylagan, a small city in southwestern Azerbaijan. He is married and has 3 children and works at a gas station, but needs to subsidize his income to feed and educate his children. To do this, he has a small herd of sheep that he raises in his back yard. He approached the lending organization for a small loan of $400 to buy more sheep.
He started paying his loan back right away! The report from his mentor with KIVA tells us that he's very happy with the additional sheep and sends his gratitude for the help. Way to go, Yusuf!
Ginger Marcilla lives in Guayaquil, Ecuador...a single mom who supports her 2 children and herself selling bookbags and clothing door to door in her area. She applied for a loan of $1200 to increase her inventory to include warmer clothing for men, women and children for the cooler season in Ecuador. Immediately after receiving her loan, she started making regular payments on a monthly basis and believes that she can repay the entire loan in 10 months! Good for you, Ginger!
Another loan has been made to a group of people who live in Arusha, Tanzania. The group is called Fridah's Rehema Group...Fridah is a 37-year-old widow with two children, ages 10 and 17. She owns a small grocery store, which she started in 2007. She works from 8AM to 11PM and can earn a monthly profit of about $50 from her sales. This is her second loan and she has proven to be an excellent client, repaying her loans in good time.
These are only 3 of the business owners who are working hard to make their life better by lifting themselves up and standing on their own two feet...I feel very privileged to be allowed to be a part of their lives and coincidentally, I am able to help them, as well. Amazing!
So, if you have a moment, check out KIVA's website, look at all of the people needing help, and if you have some time, a little spare coin and a good heart, make a loan and help a few of these good folks make their lives better. I believe it's the least we can do, living as we are in a country like Canada...it's the least we can do.
"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 in the developing world.
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.org