As an avid supporter of Kiva, I was very happy to watch the BBC World News‘ program titled ‘Alvin’s Guide To Good Business’: Alvin Hall, a business and financial expert, is travelling the world helping social entrepreneurs become more successful. Can the poor borrow their way out of poverty? Alvin aims to find out by lending just $25 to two small business women in Tanzania, via Kiva, a global micro-finance website. Can Alvin help Kiva achieve its ambitious goal of reducing global poverty by linking lenders directly to small entrepreneurs, using the power of the internet?
When you help others,
– - From the Broadway musical ‘Avenue Q’
In the past year I have loaned $25 to a woman from Pakistan so that she can expand her dry cleaning business, $25 to a woman from Peru to start a clothing business, and $25 to a woman from Tajikistan who wanted to increase the range of goods she sells in the local market. You see, I used to donate money to worthy causes, but after reading too many reports about managers using donations for their own lavish existence, I have grown quite cynical and gradually stopped donating money. Micro-financing is different, as you do not donate your money but lend it for a period of time to an entrepreneur in a developing country, and you get your money back after a couple of months. This helps a great deal as those entrepreneurs do not need to use loan sharks. Kiva.org is the world’s first person to person microlending website. The $25 from me joined others’ and the total amount of money loaned and repaid to this date is 31 million dollars with a default rate of 1.8%. Yes, that’s right, 98% of the money was paid back, allowing the microlenders to take it back, or lend it to someone else.
NBC Correspondent John Larson traveled to Africa to visit the Kiva Entrepreneurs he has loaned to:
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.