Monday, 20 May 2013

Why I choose to support Kiva - lending to alleviate poverty

I first discovered Kiva through a Parkrun friend, Martin Allen. I must get back to Parkrun soon, but that's for another blog post! Martin had posted on Facebook about a loan he had made 'on Kiva' and, being nosey, I clicked through to find out more. I'm now hooked!

Kiva is a worldwide organisation, based in America, which co-ordinates microfinance loans that are funded by ordinary people. Each lender pays out $25 (about £20) towards a loan of their choice thereby spreading their risk and creating a lovely community spirit. The loan is then repaid in monthly installments to a Kiva account online from which the lender can choose to either withdraw the money back to their own bank account or to relend it to another deserving cause. Repayments are usually made from around the 17th of the month and I have got into the habit of looking forward to this date. I enjoy the lending process and finding new loans to support. I support women who are trying to improve their own businesses and so far have made 16 loans to 14 different countries across the world. The sheer volume of hopeful recipients can be a bit overwhelming so I tend to search for smaller loans that are near to reaching their funding total.

This month I chose to support Rocio who lives in Columbia and Asmaa who lives in Jordan. Rocio has her own business painting and selling pre-made ceramic figurines and has taken out a loan to buy a kiln so she can create her own figurines and a display case to better exhibit them. Asmaa has a small shop selling children's toys and her loan is to purchase a selection of homewares so now both mothers and daughters will find items to interest them.

Please take a look at Kiva and see if you would like to get involved. There is an element of risk as some loans do default. However I think of each $25 as a donation and if it returns to be lent again, so much the better, but I don't lend money that I couldn't afford to lose. I haven't lost any yet!

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