Two Christmases ago Derek and I each put $100 into Kiva businesses.
Kiva’s mandate is to help those who help themselves. The loans help entrepreneurs in third world countries get their businesses started and they are loans, not hand-outs. I invested in a cattle farm in Azerbaijan, a motorcycle transportation venture and a beauty salon in Togo and a computer seller in Peru. A couple of those $25 loans were paid off quickly so I reinvested in two businesses in Peru – clothing sales and a coffee shop.
As of yesterday, every penny of my loans has been paid back so it’s time to go back to Kiva and find some other worthy merchants to finance.
Kiva’s website has hundreds of people and their ideas. Some are looking for a loan of a few hundred bucks. Others need a few thousand. You can pick and choose by topping up those who are almost at their goal or getting someone else started. It’s totally up to you. Recipients rarely default on their loans but there is a tiny risk that it will happen. It has not happened to either one of us and my mere $100 has so far helped six merchants and will soon help four more. That’s a pretty good return on a small investment and it’s fun to think that I’m “in” cattle ranching in a far away land, helping a guy look after his family through his own hard work. Check it out at www.kiva.org.