Wednesday, March 26, 2008

This nice lady needed a freezer

for her tiny store in Paraguay. I loaned her a little money ($25), and so did a few other people from the US, Canada, France, and Australia. She got the freezer, improved her income, and paid us all back in no time.

I could do this thanks to the microfinancing website called Kiva, which I heard about in an interview with Bill Clinton (before he turned vicious and sniping, remember? Back when he was all about giving?). You may have heard about microfinancing; it's pretty obvious now that it's been created. Poor people can't afford a big loan -- but if you loan them $25 or $100 or so, they can start a small business and make a little headway, and they're more likely to be able to pay the loan off without being, for all intents and purposes, indentured to their loan.

So Kiva sets up the loans, you contribute to the person you want to loan to (via PayPal), and within a few months, the money comes back and you can reinvest or get your money back. I've loaned to a pig farmer in Indonesia, a carpenter in Bolivia, a small consortium of fruit and vegetable saleswomen in Peru, a weaver in Peru, and someone who sells home decor in Peru. They've all either paid back their loans or are close to doing so. It feels very rewarding.


Stephanie said...

That site sounds amazing -- I'm going to check it out. Thanks for sharing that.

Wincey said...

It's pretty terrific. Hope you find someone you can support! :)