Kiva is a "micro-lender" around the world. They match up small businesses who need a small loan with small donors who have a small amount of money. The businesses get the loans they need, and the donors have the chance to help support someone in a meaningful way without big risk.
How does it work? Kiva has listings of individuals or small groups in (mostly) undeveloped or under-developed countries who are trying to support themselves with a small business, and who need a small loan to keep their business going. I browse these listings and choose one (or more) to invest in. I can sort by country, region, type of loan, type of business, gender of borrower, etc. to help me find the business in which I want to invest.
Kiva gathers my donation (usually $25) and the donations of other lenders like me and pool the money. Then Kiva gives out the loan to this business. Folks who receive these loans are folks who could never qualify for a loan otherwise, but with this loan they are more able to grow their small business to a point that better supports their family and their community. Over time, they pay back their loans to those who donated. So I get my donation back in my Kiva account. I can choose then to take my money back, donate it to Kiva's operating expenses, or re-invest it in a new loan. I've always re-invested my paid-back loan money, so my initial donation to Kiva has been recycled over and over!
Fine print: There are a few cases where the loan is not repaid, the business defaults on the loan. In that case, my loan money does not come back to me. But those cases are really rare. Kiva has been given the highest rating (four stars) by Charity Navigator, which I think is awesome.
My original contribution to my Kiva account was $250 in December 2007. Since that time, I've made 54 different loans, totaling $1650. I've lost $21.75 of that due to loans that were not repaid. But it's pretty awesome to me that with my original donation, I've helped 54 different individuals make their business stronger. That makes me feel really good!
If you'd like to participate in this worldwide small business booster, just click on the image below. You'll be taken to the Kiva sign-up page. (Disclaimer: if you choose to join via this link, then I'll receive a free $25 in my account with which to make a new loan.)
Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored by Kiva or anyone else. It's just my own opinion and it is as close as I will ever come to being pushy about something like this. I hope you don't find this pushy at all, actually. Really I just wanted to share what I find to be an awesome thing.
I'd like to invite you to come back next Tuesday to my weekly "Happy Tuesday" Link Party. Each week we're sharing anything and everything that makes us happy! That's easy enough, right? The party starts on Monday nights at 9pm Eastern, and lasts all day Tuesday. Please come and join in! You can read more about the party by clicking on the image below.