This year as I reflected on my life and the intense gratitude I feel, I was inspired to give other women a helping hand so they can better their lives. I turned to Kiva.org.
I made a pledge to myself that each month of this year I will make a $25 Kiva loan to someone whose story touches me. If all goes well the loans will be paid back over time. If not, then I am not out a large sum of money.
Unfamiliar with Kiva? Basically lenders can browse potential borrowers that include people looking to build a business, get an education, obtain clean drinking water, and more. Loans can be made safely and securely through PayPal and although Kiva does not guarantee repayment, about 97% are honoured.
When a borrower applies for a loan it goes through an underwriting and approval process before it's posted to Kiva's website for lenders to see. Loans are crowdfund so that goals can be met quicker. As the loan is repaid, funds are returned to the lenders' accounts and can be cashed out, donated to Kiva to help with costs, or loaned to someone else.
Kiva does not collect interest on loans, so 100% of the loaned monies go to the borrower. Lenders don't receive interest payments, but many borrowers do pay interest to local field partners to help cover the many expenses incurred including training, health services and financial education. This interest is often given in the form of community service.
Kiva ensures that any interest charges charged by field partners are reasonable and rates are fully disclosed. All partnered financial institutions and organizations are on a mission to provide safe and fair credit to the underserved population in 84 countries who would not otherwise have access to banking services. Field partners can be microfinance institutions, schools, non-government organizations or social enterprises.
Kiva.org has earned the top 4 star rating on Charity Navigator. Two thirds of its operating costs are funded by voluntary donations made by lenders, with grants and donations from supporters and foundations funding the remainder.
Each month I choose a borrower whose story reaches me deeply. For instance in March, in honour of my mother who was both hatched and dispatched that month, I chose a borrower who is raising her three children while working a sewing business. My mother was a talented seamstress with three children so it seemed fitting.
There is no requirement to make multiple loans, but monthly loans are a goal I have set for myself this year. I love the feeling it gives me knowing that I'm helping someone reach their dreams and improve their life.
Check it out for yourself and see how great it makes you feel!