Friday, July 11, 2008

Why I am a Lender at Kiva

Recently I noticed that the blog My Journey to Eliminate Debt had an advertisement for Kiva in the sidebar. It prompted me to go over there and hunt down their ad codes so I could add it to my own, since I've been a part of Kiva for quite awhile. I have made it my goal to only put ads for business I believe in and use myself on my blog,* and ever since my friend Tracey introduced me to Kiva I have tried to support this organization.

Kiva is a nonprofit that is doing work I believe in. The goal of the organization is not unlike - you bid on loans for people who are looking for assistance. The difference is Kiva allows you to lend to specific low-income entrepreneurs in the developing world.

You choose who to lend to - whether a baker in Afghanistan, a goat herder in Uganda, a farmer in Peru, a restaurateur in Cambodia, or a tailor in Iraq - and as they repay their loan, you get your money back. It’s a powerful and sustainable way to empower someone right now to lift themselves out of poverty. Since I am a business person myself, I love the idea of lending to small business owners who are trying to get ahead. Here are the two loans I have over there now:

Loan 1:

Mrs. Sopheap Chea, age 36, and her husband have been married since 1991. They have five children, four sons and one daughter. Four of their children are studying in a local school, and the youngest one stays at home. Sopheap and her family live along National Road Number Two, about fifteen kilometers from Phnom Penh. She has been in the business of weaving cotton scarves since 1985. It’s a skill she learned from her neighbor. Her husband is a teacher.

Sopheap is requesting a loan for the first time, in the amount of $1,000. She will use this money to expand her scarf-weaving business.

As of 7/11/08 - Her $1,000 loan is 25% repaid.

Loan 2:

At Yamoransa station near Cape Coast is the well-known chop bar operator Madam Grace Cramson. She has lots of customers. Her customers are drivers, passengers who use the Accra – Cape Coast highway, and people in and around the Yamoransa area. She is married and has three children aged 22, 12 and 7 years. Her husband is a driver, and he has his own vehicle. Madam Cramson is a hardworking woman. She has a drinking spot, also. To help the finances of her family, she also sells all kinds of assorted drinks including minerals and some locally-made drinks such as kasapreko, oprim quansah, and schnapps.

One challenge that Madam Cramson faces is that she always runs out of drinks because she has to make an advance payment before she receives the shipment from her suppliers. Her suppliers include the Coca Cola company of Ghana and the Ghana Breweries.

She is therefore asking for a loan of US $1,000 to enable her to buy more crates of minerals (Malta Guinness, Coca Cola, Fanta, and Sprite) to fill her drinking spot attached to her chop bar.

As of 7/11/08 her $1,000 is 57% repaid.

This is why I invest in Kiva. I like these woman. Like Mrs. Chea I have made scarves, (though not commercially,) and how could I not like Madame Cramson? I just want to pull up to her stand and order a schnapps, don't you?

I loaned each of these ladies $25. (Bids are in $25 increments.) When their loans are repaid, I can get my money back, although far more likely I will reinvest the money into other loans for folks.

I write on here a lot about my personal financial woes, but let's face it, there are a lot of people out there who have it much harder than I do. I am going to try to make and effort to write about giving back as well as getting. Keeping a balance is always important.

* Just for the record, I don't get anything for talking about Kiva except the hope that some more people will go over there and check them out.


louise said...

Hi dawn :) I really like kiva. I just rollover my loans to someone else when they finish, so the orginal amount of money just keeps on helping people instead of only helping one person, once.

Dawn said...

Hi Louise!

That is probably what I will do too. The money is "spent" so to speak, so letting it rollover is a nice idea.