27 February, 2011

What in Good Gravy is a "KIVA" ???

Kiva is essentially a charity, but it doesn't work by donations. It took me a long time to get my head around how it works. I must say, the info on the website can be COMPLETELY confusing as well. Sooo... here's my simplified version.
People in developing countries need a hand. They ask for a loan - perhaps to buy seeds. Ordinary people like us lend the money. The needy people buy their seeds, grow them, then sell the grain for a profit. Then those people repay the money. Next, we cheer that we got to help someone - for FREE. Sound good?
Kiva, of course, is the site that manages all these loans and repayments, along with "field partners" who meet the borrowers and choose who needs the loans. It is *crazy* exciting to see it being paid back. It's a feelgood you don't get by donating to most charities - because with Kiva you actually get to see what the person did with the loan. And your money has helped someone for free, AND you can then loan it again, to someone else.
Here's a pic of who I loaned to.

This group of ladies is from Ecuador. They all have different reasons for wanting the loan, but here's a couple of examples: one is a single mother studying to become a surgeon, who sells Avon to help support herself. The loan money is helping with her university costs. Another one is a married mum of 4 who is using the money to buy pigs to raise. She hopes raising pigs will one day help her buy a car.

Along with another 106 people, I put in my $25 loan three months ago, and they group have paid back $15.50 so far in regular repayments. What's more, if any of these woman can't pay back their share, all the others in the group step in to pay it back. That's the part that made me confident to go ahead with my loan.

It really isn't a huge amount of money to those of us with a roof over our heads. Not much at all. It would be a lot to donate to a regular charity I suppose - but I would never see that cash again, and probably never know if it really helped anyone. And I certainly couldn't donate it over and over again either. This is why I love Kiva. It will only be a few more weeks until I have the entire $25 back and then I can choose another person to help. Or, if I didn't want that, I could even withdraw it back into my PayPal. it cost me nothing, right? *shrug* But... I am just ITCHING to see the rest come back so I can choose who to loan to next. It's more fun than shopping. Go and have a look.

PS. The Finnish word "kiva" means something's good or nice.