Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Micro-Lending (Kiva)

There's a popular form of philanthropy called "micro-lending" at sites such as Kiva. It's where multiple people can lend small amounts of money to one particular cause or entrepreneur such as a loan for a brickmaker so she can buy more materials for bricks or a loan for a vendor who needs to purchase more clothing to sell. The loans are small, even as low as $150. The lowest amount one person can lend is $25.

When you sign up you fund your account with a certain amount of money, let's say $100. You can lend that money to one person or to four people and help them meet their goal. Eventually, the money is paid back to you, goes back into your account and you can lend it again.

At the Kiva site you can read details about the entrepreneurs, what they want to use the money for, how it will change their lives and important financial information such as how much they are lending, how close they are to getting to their goal and what their repayment rate is (to see if they are a safe bet).

The organizations that run the micro-lending are carefully screened so as to get the best use out of the money. You want the best possible chance of being repaid so you can use your same money over and over again.

Why not check out kiva.org and see if there's someone there you can help? The great thing about this money is that it works for you over and over again -- you're not giving it, you're LENDING it, so you keep doing good with your original seed money. How gratifying is that??

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