This is Shazia Nawaz, photographed here with one of her four children. She and her husband live in the town of Vehari in Punjab province, Pakistan. Yesterday she applied for a micro-loan of US$250 to buy a new dry cleaning machine for her dry cleaning business. Yesterday just so happened to be the day that I decided to log on to Kiva.org, a non-profit organization that transformed microfinancing into an interpersonal experience. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus’ idea of microcredit means giving the working poor small cash loans without interest, without collateral and without red tape, as Shazia and many other entrepreneurs in the developing world do not need a handout. They already run small businesses successfully and support their families, but in order to further grow their business they need a loan. Me and nine other people who read Shazia’s story online donated US$25 each and allowed the local Kiva field partner to give her the needed money. While the loans are given without any collateral or credit history checks, the percent of people who do not pay back a loan is 0.2%. The money I loaned will gradually return to my account, and I would then decide whether I want to withdraw it or loan it to someone else.
With the season’s holidays drawing near I wanted to urge you to get into the spirit of giving, and less into the spirit of buying. You can personally make a difference in someone’s life, and you could also give someone you love a Kiva Gift Certificate that will allow him to start giving. Check out this video showing how easy it is to lend with Kiva.
You can follow Shahar Golan’s loan portfolio here.