At the risk of writing about something a little off topic, I would like to share a little something about one of my most favorite charities, Kiva.org. (Actually, by the end of this post, the frugality in the philosophy of microloans should be apparent.)
If you haven’t already, please check it out. Kiva.org is a microloan system that promotes charity through economic responsibility. It allows you, through strength of numbers and the American dollar, to give small loans (as little as $25) to help people all over the world who are in desperate need of a small hand up to change their lives. The money gets paid back, and you can do it again and again.
Although there is always a little risk in lending to strangers, Kiva.org has a very clear star rating system so you know how much risk is involved. I have been repaid every cent I’ve lent so far, and I’ve been doing it for 2 or 3 years. If you choose to leave Kiva.org, you can withdraw your money once your loan is repaid. Remember, this is a charity. Your money doesn’t earn interest, but it does get repaid.
Best of all, unlike other charities, which always leave you wondering if your money is being put to good use, or if anyone really benefits from your generosity, the loans given on Kiva.org teach enterprise, entrepreneurialism and fiscal responsibility.
In the past two years, $25 at a time, I have helped a widow buy and sell cattle for a profit, a farmer expand his rice fields, a russian woman invest in new products for her small market, and a small group of people build a business that their whole village can participate in. I’ve only invested $50 total, but that $50 has been lent and repaid many times over so far. My goal is to add another $25-$50 every year (A very doable goal at $2 a month) so eventually I can really wield some lending power without hurting my own fiscal house.
Right now, Kiva has a promotion going where you can join (using the link below) and give your first $25 loan for free! There’s never been a better time to check it out, and honestly, I don’t know how everyone isn’t doing this already.
Please at least give their home page a read. There are about 3500 opportunities left to register and make your first $25 loan for free.
I would like to see at least ten people respond to this appeal. With thousands of readers, I think we can do it. Please click on one of the Kiva.org links in this post, and let me know in the comments below.
While we’re waiting, let me know what you think about this. Do you have a Kiva.org experience you’d like to share? How does lending to those in need make you feel? Would you recommend it to your friends and family? How do you think microloans help improve the life and economy of the borrowers in places like Ecuador, Pakistan and Iraq over traditional giving?