If you recall from Twitter, I had met a partner of Kiva on my plane ride out to Poland and was enthralled before he could finish his 3rd sentence :) This guy lived and breathed helping people! In particularly in his hometown of La Paz, Bolivia. So naturally my first batch of loans went directly there – to people I know could REALLY use the help.
But let’s back up a bit, what the heck is Kiva? If you haven’t heard of them before (which would be surprising as they’re blowing up faster than Lady GaGa), they basically empower individuals like you and me to lend to entrepreneurs across the globe. You lend out $25, let’s say, get it back within a certain period, and then lend it out again to someone else (or just take it back). So it’s different than charity where you give it out and it stays out (although obviously that has its benefits too!).
Kiva has mastered the art of combining microfinance with the internet, and in the process they’re creating a global community of people connected through lending. It’s awesome. And from what I hear takes a LOT of hard work and diligence. Kiva was born of the following beliefs (taken from their about page):
- 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.
How awesome is that? It’s like a big happy family shooting money all over the place and trying to really make a difference. And it’s working! As I write this, Kiva has raised over $160 MILLION dollars from over 200 countries. It really is incredible, considering they’ve only been around for a few years max (well, they started in 2005 but really started taking off the last few years).
Kiva makes me happy. It shows that you can use your passion and hard work toward something GOOD in this world and it’s refreshing. I don’t know how much I’ll end up investing out over the years, but right now we’re starting out with $550 (I was gonna do $500 but 2 of the Bolivian loaners tugged at my heart! haha…, so I lent them $50 each instead of $25 like I did the others). It would be awesome to having a solid $5,000 – $10,000 in there constantly on rotation, but I dont’ think life will allow that right now. Still, it’s certainly possible.
If you want to join me and give them a shot – even if all you can afford is $25.00! – take a few minutes and sign up, and then join Team Budgets Are $exy and we’ll all make good together :) And be sure to join the team BEFORE lending because once you lend out you can’t go back and attribute it to any team – I made that mistake myself, although not the worst thing in the world.
Here are my pages below. They’ll give you a good idea on how it all looks in action. Hope to see you on there! And you’re still awesome whether you invest or not, we all donate our time and money differently – we’ll always respect that :)
PS: I forgot to mention, every single dollar you invest goes directly to the lendee! There is an option at the end to donate a few dollars to Kiva to cover costs and maintenance, etc, but it’s totally optional. This means ALL of your $ goes directly to the entrepreneur you want to help! And no, it’s not tax deductible ;) You’re lending it out and (hopefully) getting it back, you’re not giving it to charity. So you can literally invest and then take all your $ back out down the road if you wanted, pretty cool stuff.
PPS: This is not an ad of any sort! I sincerely love what they’re doing :)