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17 November 2012
The thing I love about Kiva is that when your loan is repaid, you can re-loan it. I have made more than 40 loans on Kiva, on an original donation of $25 and a few "fill in" amounts when I didn't have quite $25 in my account to re-loan.
When you first log in to Kiva, they offer suggestions of projects you might like to find. I'm not sure how these are chosen for spotlight, but I like to search through the various projects myself. I always loan to women (the only one who defaulted on a loan to me was a man, early on in the process) and I check out countries where I also have Compassion kids. Mostly Kenya, Philippines, and Uganda. I give preference to women who have either raised families or who have children...the more children, the more likely I am to choose that project. I always choose a project that speaks to me.
Recently, for example, I helped fund a project by a women's collective that was to buy manure for farming. I was tickled to think I was helping these women buy shit.
I also helped fund a woman in the U.S. who makes pesto. A woman after my own heart! I funded a guy in the U.S. who sells baseball caps. Another loan went to a woman in Ghana who makes donuts, my favorite. And I couldn't resist loaning to this woman in the Philippines:
She was 67 years old (the age I was when I made the loan) and she repairs motorcycles. How can you not admire that in a woman?
I loaned to this woman in Kenya because of the size of her family (7) and because she seems to be a devoted grandmother, but mostly because of the pain on her face. I had just seen a program about persecution of women in Kenya and my heart went out to her. Microfinancing is helping women in countries like Kenya achieve independence from their abusers.
Today, though, I discovered Rose in Uganda.
For one thing, she lives in the country where my Compassion daughter Shallon lives. For another thing, she is a "person of size," and I always feel a kinship.
She has six children of her own, four of whom are in school, and she is taking care of two orphans. Two of her children are in school and she wants to earn money to send them all to school. She owns property that she rents to earn extra money, but this loan is "to buy jerrycans of local gin in large quantities." She has been in the gin business for three years and her goal is to raise enough money to be able to start brewing her own gin.
Now, how could I not lend money to this worthy cause?
Jeri recently sent me a link to a New York Times article about microfinancing. It's from an about to be published book called "The International Bank of Bob: Connecting Our Worlds one $25 Kiva Loan at a Time," by Bob Harris. It tells the story of his travels around the world following up on his loans, meeting the people who have benefitted from the loans and recording their stories.
The article ends: "By the time The International Bank of Bob is published, Mr. Harris will have issued over 5,000 loans, he said, with only $100 or so of his original $20,000 investment lost to defaults. Its the same money over and over, he said. But its just twenty-five bucks.
"Mr. Harris said he long had a desire to give to charity, but for many years found the process daunting. To whom should he give? How much should he give? Microfinance offered him a personal connection.
With many charities its an act of faith to put money out there, Mr. Harris said. But Kiva says, Heres a guy in Cambodia who climbs palm trees for a living to turn the sap into sugar that he can sell. Heres where your money goes. That had a tremendous appeal.
For me too!!
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