Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Loans Give Life

I would like you to meet Akua Kusasi. She lives with her family in Offinso in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. She has requested a $550 loan in order to buy maize in bulk so she can expand her business enough to pay for educational opportunities for her children. I have responded to her request in part.
You see, a few years ago I heard about an organization called Kiva.org. Kiva is a person-to-person micro-lending website, who's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty. What that essentially means is that Kiva works with trusted micro-lenders all over the world to provide interest free loans to entrepreneurs who can demonstrate the trust to pay back those loans over time.
The unique part about this is that Kiva is not really providing these loans. I am. You are. We globally are. While she needed $550, I could only contribute to part of that. But some one from Canada is contributing a portion. Someone from France has thrown in some money as well. And there are more. Alone, we might not be able to help Ms. Kusasi but with our concerted effort, we can get her the money she needs to make a better life for herself and her family.
I never really talk about my giving or how much I give but was inspired by someone else to share this. You see, this is not just something we throw money at and hope somebody else fixes it. Here you are investing directly into somebody that is working to make a better life for themselves.
The thing about Kiva.org is that when the loan is paid back, you get your money back and can decide how you wish to use. I am not going to say how much I put in to Kiva but lets say I put the minimum $25 (which many people do and it is very effective, nothing wrong with that at all). When Ms. Kusasi pays back her loan and I get my part back, I can chose to withdraw that $25 and put it back in my pocket. But what myself, and many others do, is we count it as a donation. So once that money is put back in our account, we can take the next person and begin helping them with their small business loan. With a small investment, this is potentially a never ending cycle of giving where millions of lives can pulled from poverty.
I would greatly encourage you to at least give Kiva.org a shot. If you later decide you need the money back or it is not worth your capital, then you can withdraw and not lose out at all. But honestly look at it. While you have little to lose, the lives affected have everything to gain.

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