Monday, October 5, 2009
Loans that Change Lives
I wrote about Kiva.org earlier this year, but seeing that it has been garnering more publicity in the news of late, I thought it deserved a follow-up. This is a simple and easy way to make a contribution to a better world without doing "charity".
Kiva.org is a place where you can window-shop for a third-world entrepreneur and for as little as $25.00 make a loan to someone anywhere in the world who is looking to start or expand their own small business. These are people not looking for a hand-out but for small funds to start a business to support their families. It is a way of helping an individual and supporting a better world economy and what can be better than that? It really isn't charity because they pay you back, and you get the satisfaction of personally knowing and seeing who you are helping. Also, it makes good social conversation at parties to say you are a global venture philanthropist who has funded a Cambodian widow expanding her goat-milking business. Doesn't that make you feel good?
New thinkers---think people who imagine a "Google" ---will become the leaders of the world and those who can use their right-brain to solve theirs and the worlds' problems will be the most successful. Personally, I think this is a great concept. Matt Flannery, who came up with the notion of Kiva.org, is one of these people. The concept is simple, Kiva’s mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty. Kiva is the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world. It only takes a small amount of money. The money is loaned and paid back to the lender and often it is the only way for someone in a third world country to start a new life or support a family. It is a great concept that shows everyone can change the world by one act. It is through one person at a time because in small ways "paying-it-forward" changes the world.
As I had written about earlier, Enh-Amgalan Banzragch was just one of many people whose stories are detailed on the site. She is a 42 year old widow with three children, who are ages 3, 7, and 21. Her youngest two children are attending a kindergarten, and the eldest daughter is working in South Korea. It is common in Mongolia to go to South Korea for a better paying job.
Her family lives in in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia. In 2002, Enh-Amgalan started selling men's and women's shoes at the Narantuul, the biggest outdoor market in Ulaanbaatar. Her eldest daughter helps her mother, brother, and sister as much as she can by sending a small amount of money from her salary every month. With this loan, Enh-Amgalan is planning to buy more shoes to increase her business inventory. Her hope is to have her own place to live and she is working hard to buy a home. She also dreams of seeing her children graduate from university.
Enh is just one of the many entrepreneurs borrowing $100 dollars or trying to raise $1,000 or more to start or expand a business and it all begins with one person who found a way to connect all these small entrepreneurs in third world countries to the larger world-- one person at a time.