Some of you may know what Kiva is, but for those who don’t I am using this blog posting to introduce Kiva. Those of you who already know about Kiva will likely be happy having it introduced to others.
Kiva Microfunds was founded as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization eight years ago, in October 2005. It now provides a way for people to lend money via the Internet to people in developing countries through Kiva's 225 field partners. These field partners can be microfinance institutions, social businesses, schools or non-profit organizations.
Let me share our experience with Kiva to illustrate. For a while now, June and I have made some small ($25) loans to people in various parts of the world, joining with others to provide them with the financial resources to become more economically independent and to have a better livelihood for themselves and their families.
Our first loan, made in January 2010, was one of several loans made to a group of 21 women in Cambodia. Chanthol, president of the group, wanted to borrow money so she could buy pigs to raise in order to provide for her family better. Kiva members joined together to provide $3,275 to that group Cambodian women, and in 13 months it was all paid back. Then we used our $25 loan to respond to another request.
Since that first loan, we have helped Badar, a man in Afghanistan who needed funds to expand his general store in Kabul in order to provide better for his family of six children. Then we helped Shamim, a widow in Pakistan who applied for a Kiva loan for her son. He drove a rented rickshaw but wanted to buy his own rickshaw to minimize expenses and increase his income. These three loans were all paid back on time.
We were not so fortunate on the next loan. It was to a group of four Afghani women who needed money to enhance their baking business. But they defaulted on their loan, and we were repaid only $20.97 of the $25 loan we made to them. There were 34 other lenders who shared in the small loss on this loan. Overall, though, Kiva’s repayment rate is 99%.
We have made other loans to two separate women in Ecuador and also to Ahn, a woman who lives in Ho Chi Minh City. They were all paid back on time.
One loan that is now being paid back was made to Wafa, a Palestinian woman who requested a Kiva loan of $2,000 to help her husband buy a new engine for the taxi he drives. His income as a taxi driver is all they have for themselves and their five children. The Kiva.com website shows others, with a picture of many, who are helping with this loan, and there are 59 in addition to June and me. Besides the U.S. they are from at least 14 other countries, including Kuwait, Malasia, Turkey and Vietnam. The others are mostly from European countries.
Last week we received an email from Kiva saying that they had just reached the one million lender mark. These lenders have provided nearly $500 million dollars to more than 1,140,000 people in 72 countries. June and I are happy to be part of this. It has cost us very little, but by joining with others we have been able to be a big help to several people around the world.
Perhaps some of you would like to do this, too. If so, just click on Kiva.org to get started.