Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lending money through Kiva.org

This morning I did something I've wanted to do for a very long time. I started an account with Kiva.org and loaned money to an entrepreneur in Ghana.

Kiva - loans that change lives

What is Kiva?

"Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend to unique entrepreneurs around the globe." [source]

100% of the lender's money goes directly to the individual or group of their choice. The lender is paid back, according to the particular loan agreement, and can then withdraw the funds, donate to Kiva (for operating expenses), or re-lend it to another person. Kiva works closely with other microfinance institutions around the globe to bring these partnerships together. The organization has set up systems of accountability to make the transactions as transparent as possible. You can learn more about how it works here.

My loan went to Alima. She is 45 years old, married and the mother of four children. All of her children are in school. She lives with her husband, who is a farmer, and their children in a small community in the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana. She is a food vendor. She has sold kenkey with fried fish for four years. Kenkey is prepared from milled maize grains, cooked and taken with hot pepper and fried fish. She has many customers since many Ghanaians enjoy kenkey as breakfast, lunch and supper. She wants to use the loan to buy more raw materials like bags of maize, meat, fish, vegetables and firewood. She hopes to increase her savings to support her children's education. She would be grateful for your support.

I chose Alima for a number of reasons:

1) Her loan was 96% achieved and with my loan it would be complete.

2) She is a working mother with an entrepreneurial spirit (like someone else I know).

3) My husband has a connection to Ghana. When he was 6 years old, he lived there with his family for several years. His parents moved there as volunteers to teach people how to start and sustain small businesses.

I wish I could loan so much more money to many organizations. While we do donate money, time, materials, etc., it is hard to justify giving money with borrowed money (medical school loans linger on the horizon). I am fortunate enough with my business, to be able to make small steps in helping others. I believe that is all it requires, small steps and a genuine heart.

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