Microcredit Through Kiva.org
Here’s an except of an email I wrote to family and friends back in March:
“I have discovered something really great. Perhaps you’ve heard or read about microfinance or microcredit. Organizations like the Grameen bank give small loans, maybe $50, maybe $2000, to someone (usually a woman because they are more reliable) looking to start a basic business in a third-world environment. It’s almost always a flat loan with no interest and short, easy terms of payment. The rate of return is usually tremendously high because people take their loans super seriously.
“Sorry if you knew all of that. Anyway, some smart Americans have taken note and put together a website (I’m sure they aren’t the only ones, but this one’s great) called kiva.org where anyone can help create these loans. It’s wonderful, you can just browse through and if one catches your eye, you contribute $25 or more and that’s that. And then you wait, and you get paid back, and you can either get your money back or reinvest in someone else.”
That very day, I invested in Juliet Grace Edepi, a butcher in rural Kenya. A high school dropout and widow with five children in secondary school, Edepi stood out to me as unusually determined, but a look around Kiva reveals many hardworking people in need of an economic boost. The loan was distributed to her in April, and collected in October. I was one of ten investors and helped this woman better her life, with only $25.
Well, I got my money back. Now Kiva has grown substantially. This time I’m loaning the twenty-five bucks to Proeung Neang of Cambodia (photo above with husband). This loan is a little bit bigger, $1,100 over a year. She is better off than most, with a steady income, a husband, and kids that can work, but her motorcycle/sea food lifestyle intrigues me. That’s the beauty of Kiva, you get to choose where your money goes, and then it comes back to you.
Photo courtesy of kiva.org. I doubt they would mind, especially if someone invests because of it.