Tall Skinny Kiwi (Andrew Jones) draws attention to the organization Kiva today.
If you are not yet familiar with Kiva, please check out their website (the “about” tab has lots of information). While I know there are some people who question the micro-finance system as a whole (see the first comment on Andrew’s post), I think some people can easily dismiss a very good opportunity in the name of trying to prevent supporting those few who tarnish a system.
Here’s how it works: Kiva administers micro-loans (in increments of $25) from people around the world like you and me. They work with local groups (verified for their reputation) to identify individuals who want a loan to help their business. Small descriptions of the currently identified loan opportunities are posted on the Kiva website. You pick who you want to loan your money to. Then the benefit of technology comes into play. You make your loan to Kiva and then you get updates about how the loan is being repaid. I know exactly who has my money, what they are trying to do, how long it takes them to repay (it is common for me to get an email that says something like “$2.09 of your loan to xxx has been repaid.” I get to be a “cheerleader” of sorts when I post a note for the entrepreneur (which gets passed on to the loan recipient). And here’s the best part: once the loan is repaid, I GET TO LOAN IT AGAIN!! Right now I have loans out to people in South Sudan, Kenya, and Ghana. Loans to folks in Peru, Ghana, Kenya, Togo, and South Sudan have already been repaid and I reloaned the money.
Here’s a video that shows the process and what Kiva is about.
This video is from Frontline: