I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. Due to various scheduling hurdles, my family is going to celebrate Christmas tomorrow (the 28th). I am lucky to be a part of a family that values having everyone together over the actual calendar date of a holiday.
As I sit here and think about how lucky I am, it’s also important to me to think about those less fortunate. Charitable giving has always been something my family has participated in, ever since I was a little guy. Being mindful of the way I spend my money is no different when it comes to helping others. I want my money to go as far as possible. That’s why I fell in love with Kiva.
Kiva is a microfinance platform. What does that mean? Let’s break it down:
- Step 1: As the lender, you go to Kiva‘s website, sign up, and find small businesses that you want to lend to. This might be a woman in Ecuador who wants to purchase chickens to supply eggs to her produce shop, for instance.
- Step 2: Lend $25 to as many of these people as you like. $25 is the minimum you can lend and while you can lend more, I personally like to spread my money out to touch as many people and countries as possible.
- Step 3: During your transaction, donate an additional amount to Kiva for operating costs (optional, but obviously I love this organization, so I do).
- Step 4: Kiva will handle the rest. They work with organizations in various countries that will get your money to the borrower.
- Step 5: Over time, the borrower will pay back the money you leant them and it gets credited back into your account.
- Step 6 (The Best Part): You can then take that credit and lend it out AGAIN – to someone new who needs it!
I really like the fact that I get the money back. No, I am not miserly – I never plan on cashing out the money in my Kiva account, just re-lending it to other people. In fact, I regularly put more money into the account and grow the number of active loans I have. But each loan of $25 can help MANY people, so whether you are in a financial situation where you can’t spare much or you can give a lot, your money will go further.
I also like the strings attached. Borrowers are motivated to put the money to good use because they are responsible for paying it back.
Here are my current stats on Kiva:
- Loans Made: 78
- Loans Made By People I Have Invited: 12 (This is where you all come in!)
- Countries Loaned To: 51 (of the 73 that Kiva supports)
- Defaults: One for $10.83 (Defaults are a risk, but they are generally low and a risk I am willing to take)
So if you want to show some love, click on this Kiva link and sign up! Yes, this link is an affiliate link, but here’s the thing: if you sign up, I don’t get “paid” in the traditional sense. I get a $25 credit in my Kiva account, which I will lend out! See, together we can make our impact go even further!
Thanks and see you all in 2014! I promise it will be an amazing year.
*Update: A friend of mine from college is doing something very cool with microlending. She has created a way for mobile games (think Candy Crush, etc) to build microlending right into their game! So when you make an in-game purchase, that money goes to helping people! Check it out at: PlaySeeds.com.
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