I first heard of micro loans through the Free the Children organization in middle school. They are small loans given to individuals living in poverty who lack the resources to start a business. The idea is that the receiving individual can use the loan to buy supplies, training etc. to start their own business and raise themselves out of poverty. Being entrepreneurially savvy, this type of contribution greatly appealed to me. It allows people to help themselves instead of having to rely on others for assistance.
Kiva is a website that facilitates micro loans that allows you to choose exactly where your money is going. You can search potential loan recipients by a specific location or cause to lend your money, such as agricultural or education. Each potential loan recipient has a photo and a personal description so you can learn more about where your loan is going as well as how much money they need for their project. The minimum amount you can lend to a project is $25 USD, and all of the money goes to the recipient. Kiva gives you asks you to make an option donation each time you make a loan to cover the operations costs.
I chose to lend money to a woman in Ecuador to buy a cow to grow her cattle breeding business. I chose this recipient because I’ve been to Ecuador and loved the people. I donated about a year ago, and my loan is 70% repaid. Once the loan is repaid, you have the choice to loan it out again to someone else or withdraw the money. Kiva has an extremely high repayment rate of 96.9%, so it’s likely you’ll be able to keep your loan as a perpetual fund.
Have you ever made a Kiva loan? What else is on your giving back bucket list?