If you haven’t heard of Kiva, you need to hear it now. Kiva means “unity” or “agreement” in Swahili. The basic idea behind Kiva is the concept of microlending or microfinance. The premise behind microlending is that many smaller loans from different sources fund a whole complete loan. The difference between Kiva and another micro-finance based site, Prosper, is that interest isn’t charged to the borrowers. Also, the borrowers are small business owners in third-world and poorer countries of the world so these are loans that truly bless people who need it. Also, because these interest-free loans are loans rather than gifts, both the lender (you) and the borrower are on the same level so everyone feels good. And the Bible teaches that we shouldn’t charge interest to the poor anyway.
All it takes is a computer, the Internet, and a Paypal account to get started! If you go to the Kiva website, you will be able to browse small businesses from around the world from places such as Cambodia, Mexico, and others (however, because of recent huge press coverage, all loans are currently funded). You will be able to see a picture and a little description of what the loan is going to be used for. Some people own small markets and need some money to buy some inventory. Others raise sheep and need some money to buy some more to expand their business. Once you find someone you’re interested in helping, all you have to do is send via Paypal a minimum of $25 to help finance the entire loan. Loans have a 6 month or 12 month terms and the pay back rate has been an amazing 99%! You’ll get progress reports on how things are going for your specific “sponsored” small business as time goes on. As of right now, the entire amount that you loan goes to the entrepreneur in the other country. Kiva does not take a cut at all and is supported by donations from lenders.
This is a great way to help the working poor around the world by lending some money to microfinance a loan. These really are loans that change lives and make a difference. Plus, you’re likely to get your money back so you can loan to someone else in need.
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