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This is the kind of stuff the internet should be used for!

March 22, 2010

This handsome fella is Eleodore Ramos Quispe from Peru. He has just requested, been granted and paid back $350 loan in order to purchase two rams, so he could increase his stock – selling meat at the market is what he does for a living. But it was no ordinary bank who loaned him the money – it was just a regular punter!

Microfinance, or micro loans, as you probably know, is a way of helping disadvantaged people who would not qualify for a conventional bank loan to get capital to start or improve their own income-generating activity. The loans, which may be as little as $20 for very poor borrowers in some developing countries, typically are for a short term and require repayment in weekly installments.

The idea was originally conceived by Prof. Muhammad Yunus, who set up the Grameen Bank – ‘Banking for the Poor’, in Bangladesh in the 1970’s. Since then micro-credit projects have helped millions around the world lift themselves out of poverty. Impact studies have demonstrated that Microfinance helps very poor households meet basic needs and protect against risks; and by supporting women’s economic participation, microfinance helps to empower women, thus promoting gender-equity and improving household well-being.

Traditionally the lending was done by small institutions, but now a non-profit, Kiva, has opened up the opportunity for anyone – anyone with an email address, and anyone who can make payments using a credit card or PayPal account – to be a lender. Yes, that’s right. That’s YOU!

As the world’s first online micro-lending platform, Kiva’s mission is to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty. They believe that

  • People are by nature generous, and will help others if given the opportunity to do so in a transparent, accountable way.
  • The poor are highly motivated and can be very successful when given an opportunity.
  • By connecting people we can create relationships beyond financial transactions, and build a global community expressing support and encouragement of one another.

What this means is that you can lend any amount of money to an entrepreneur of your choice, anywhere in the world, and he or she will pay back the money directly to your bank account. What I love (apart from the genius idea) is that you can browse the Kiva website and choose who you want to support while reading about all the entrepreneurial people around the world, doing their thing in often pretty difficult circumstances. It is both powerful and inspiring. Below are a few:

This is Maria Mwakagali from Mbozi in Tanzania.

She is married with six children and also responsible for supporting two orphans whose parents died of HIV. Maria has been running a metal-welding business since 2007, manufacturing window bars, gates and other metal works. She works at the business for nine to 12 hours per day, six days a week.
She requested a loan of $US 400 in order to buy a new welding machine so she expand the business. Her loan was funded by 10 lenders in August last year, and six months later she’s paid back more than 40 percent.

Venie Lagulao from the Philippines owns and operates a video games business. She is also a fish vendor. She requested a loan $125 to purchase additional inventory and for working capital.
Melania Méndez asked for a $1000 loan to buy fireworks (colored candles, volcanoes, and colored lights – which she sells exclusively to “very responsible adults”!) to stock her establishment with. She payed it back in 14 months.
Enh-Amgalan Galya is basically an interior decorator of the gers (the Mongolian traditional nomadic housing); he makes doors, tables, beds, iron stoves and stove chimneys. He requested a loan of $525 to buy wood, which he paid back in less than a year.
Noor Zai is 32 years old and lives with his family of five in Kabul, Afghanistan. He works seven days a week driving his cab to earn income to support his family. In order to keep it in good operating order, he needs to buy new tires and tubes, so he is requesting a loan of $175.
Candida Concepción Martínez is 23 years old. She has been working in recycling for over 5 years; she buys and sells recycled aluminum, cardboard, metals, and plastic which she collects and transports with the help of a small cart that she pulls herself. She needs $100 to build a storage shed where she can keep the materials overnight.

Mrs. Jeanne Adagba from Benin sells leaves, roots and tree barks, used in traditional medicine. She has requested $350 to buy 5 sacks of various tree roots and leaves.

Got your email address? Got you Pay Pal? Then click here!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 23, 2010 6:14 am

    I love Kiva.
    And I just found a similar thing for making donations – (since some people aren’t running a business and won’t be able to pay back, but need monetary help anyway.) Betterplace.org. -check it out.

    The portfolio / pick your case-approach is so great and so direct and it’s so much better than donating to , don’t know, the red cross where it feels like your money just will disappear.

  2. March 23, 2010 12:52 pm

    Yes, I agree – it really makes a difference when you can see a photo of them and read about their family and their challenges, and different people will connect with different people. Kind of obvious, but that’s part of what makes it so human.
    I will check out betterplace for sure.
    Thanks for checking in, and commenting. Love it.

  3. March 24, 2010 5:58 pm

    Speaking of Kiva – I’m supporting them and I just got refunded 50 dollars this morning, meaning someones business is going well over there. And that I can spend the 50 on someone else. Makes you happy.
    Btw:
    I also decided to sponsor only women (so far anyway) for the one reason that I think (and heard) that women are better businessmen since they take more responsibility for family and more people then themselves. So they don’t waste money, they work hard and invest them. Second reason for this is that since women are the underdogs anyway it’s more fun to support them. What do you think of this?

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