Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Kiva


Kiva is finally starting to make headlines. Well, when I say that, I mean that the first headline I've seen regarding Kiva apart from those on the Kiva site itself turned up in the Guardian online today.

I first came across Kiva last year, in relation to Blog Poverty Day. It seemed a good scheme then, and it's proved itself since. I think what I like about it is that the money you lend out actually comes back to you and you can re-lend it to another person in the queue. And there are plenty of people in the queue, too.

It's very simple. The website shows you a bunch of photos of people who would like a loan to fund either a small business starting up, or one that's already underway. These loans go to people who are already on the move; they may live in poverty areas of the world, but they're doing their best to make sure they don't go down the tubes.

Some of the photos show groups of people who are working as a collective. You can lend to either. And the amount you lend is minimal, really: $25US. I've had it paid back three or four times over already, and there's still money in my account. If I need to top it up, I just draw a bit off my Paypal account and it's done! Kiva asks for a small donation usually, for admin purposes, but you're not obliged to pay this.

I'd recommend it to anyone: it's certainly better than spending your money on diet pills that work (or don't work, as the case may be), or on some new clothes, or a DVD or book (the last two are where I fall down when browsing in shops). Kiva is a way to make a difference in the world. It's a tiny difference as far as I'm concerned, perhaps, but combined with thousands of others' money, it makes a huge difference to people in places we've often never heard of.

Check 'em out!
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