I received a $25.00 Kiva Gift certificate for Christmas 2007. I made my first loan the very day the certificate arrived in my email.
Today I just made my 50th loan. A milestone!
In the last two years I've loaned $1,325.00 to entrepreneurs all over the world. Of that amount only $400.00 actually came from my own pocket. $25.00 was that original gift certificate. And all the rest was the proceeds from repaid loans.
That money has helped a man in Mongolia buy a truck so he could transport his chickens & eggs to market.
It helped a woman in Moldova build greenhouses so she can move from a roadside stand to the wholesale market.
In Peru, it helped move a street vendor florist into her own shop.
A baker in Tajikistan now has expanded his business to a second location.
A couple in Cambodia now cultivate twice as much rice land as before.
And, a woman in Nigeria is a tailor who makes the most beautiful traditional costumes.
So what has it done for me? It's given me hours of pleasure as I research each new loan. I love being one of the first two or three in a new lender pool. Or clicking the button that means mine was the very last $25 to fully fund a loan. I read about the areas my borrowers live. I put a tack in the world map on my wall. I dream about visiting those countries someday. In my dreams I picture myself walking into a local market and buying a loaf of bread, or a boquet of flowers, or a half-dozen eggs from a successful business person. Then I walk out again, remaining blissfully unaware that my $25.00 was part of their success.
On a day when I pull up my email and have a notice from Kiva that enough money has been repaid for me to make a new loan, it's like Christmas all over again.
I've given Kiva gift certificates myself. And then eagerly watch to see what kinds of business the recipents will support.
So, this Christmas, how many unnecessary gifts will you buy for friends and family? Will you give someone a gift card to Starbucks? Will you send them a basket of overpriced fruit from Harry & Davids? Why not consider a Kiva gift certificate instead. Give them a world full of people they can help succeed with a simple mouse click.