The Goodness Feature: Kiva

by Leonie Dawson on August 28, 2009


Kiva - loans that change lives

A new feature today… I wanted to profile an organisation that does some amazing work in this world… and how we can become goddess angels for other people’s dreams… I’ve chosen Kiva as a do-gooder sponsor this month, because their work touches my heart and spirit.

A lot of people have heard about the amazing work that Kiva does. My lovely name-sister Leonie Wise introduced me to Kiva a couple of years ago, and I’ve been a proud Kiva-ette ever since.

For those who don’t know about Kiva yet – I’m really excited to be your first guide of it.
Kiva is one of those ways you can “donate” and help third world countries.

But – it’s not that boring, and it’s not that one-ended.

Instead of making one-off donations, you become an angel investor.

Say you’ve got $25.

You choose an entrepreneur from a third world country who wants to grow their business to make more money for their family. They could be a family wanting to buy another goat so they can sell more milk in Cambodia. Or a group of women in Peru who want to buy a shop so they can sell clothes.

They have an idea about how to become more profitable, and just need some investors with the capital.
You lend them your $25. And over a period of time, they pay it back to you (without interest).

Talk about self-empowerment.

To them – they aren’t just being given a gift. They aren’t being thrown a fish. They are buying some line so they can keep catching their own fish.

Individuals, families and communities get to take control of their destinies.

And here’s the amazing thing – there is less faulting on loans then there is for a first world bank.

It’s a win-win situation every step of the way.

And once all your money is paid back to you? You get to withdraw it and buy yourself some cupcakes, or invest in another entrepreneur.

I’ve studied economic history, and community development, and social policy and anthropology at university. And it taught me a whole lot of really big words and concepts that I can never remember enough to use. All I know is, when I hear about something as thrilling and empowering as the work Kiva is doing, I get excited deep in my belly.

Kiva’s Popularity

Obviously, Kiva is doing something very, very right. In the past couple of years, their use has exploded.

This week alone, nearly a million dollars has been lent to people in countries all around the world who just need a bit of investment to help them make their big dream come true.

When businesses become more profitable, their owners become more abundant, and that income keeps on flowing back, growing and developing their community and country. It’s healing and fixing a whole bundle of issues all at once – just by enabling development.

That’s so smigging exciting that my toes are bunching up with happiness.

And the best part?

With every non-profit, you wonder just how much of your money is going in to making the impact – not administering the non-profit. With Kiva, any amount you lend goes totally to that entrepreneur. And they actually explain that if you like, you can donate to helping keep Kiva doing what it does. And that whole part of total transparency makes me feel so empowered and in the loop, I always donate more for them. They are doing it so right.

My experience

I’m now onto my third loan at Kiva – still a baby entrepreneur by Kiva standards!

So far, I’ve helped a group of women in Pakistan buy more sewing machines for their business, a group of farmers in Peru buy more cattle to farm and helped a woman in Bolivia who sells from a food cart build a wall around her property. My loans have been 40% repaid so far, with money coming back in each month. I’m so heart-thrilled at how the experience has been.

Want to learn more?

Pop on over to www.kiva.org to find out how you can get involved, and check out the faces of all the beautiful people you can become angel investors in.

I really, really heart things that change this world.

Know any other awesome do-gooder organisations around? I’d love to hear about them! Or have Kiva experiences of your own to share? I’m all ears :)

Big love you,

____