This morning I got an email from Rach which was an automated message through Kiva.org talking about its services and mission. For those of that don’t know (including me up until a few hours ago), Kiva is a micro-lending site that specializes in raising loan funds (read: not donations) for entrepreneurs in developing countries on a micro level, to help them develop businesses, get an education, etc.
Kiva works with existing micro lending institutions to get the funds to the individual, tracks their progress (which you can see via the website) and ultimately handles the repayment of your loan. When I say MICRO lending, its exactly what the name entails. You can lend as little as $25 to a project of your choice and see that cash make a difference.
My first Kiva loan was to the Annet Nakaweesa Group in Uganda, which is a food market. My $25 was only a small part of the $4,975 total loan that will be used to purchase goods for a local food shop. This group has track record of successful repayment of other micro loans and I should expect to see my investment repaid in 3 months.
On their page, I can also see other Kiva lenders who have lent to this group, and although I haven’t had a chance to really get into the guts of the site, I’m pretty impressed so far. I think there’s probably a huge opportunity for community building.
I’ve read a bit about micro lending before through different articles in Wired or even hearing about it at TED, but had yet to participate. Its such a brilliant use of the web to organize and provide opportunities to people a half a world away. Its community, its trust, and its an opportunity to help influence good things. I’ll keep you all posted on the progress of the repayment but I’m looking forward to checking out some other amazing opportunities through micro lending…
With the hot mess that’s Wal St. and our banking system, its funny how other opportunities present themselves that remind me that people can be cool. My confindence in anything relating to this ‘bailout’ has long since expired, as I generally don’t know if there is enough collective wisdom in our business and elected leaders to address whatever financial calamity we’re looking at. And then I see how regular people can come together to create opportunities where there were none, or where it was ‘unprofitable,’ and see if as a collective of individuals can help change happen even in small doses.