Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Alternative Gifts: Kiva

I hope the recent endorsements of Oprah, and the Today Show, and yes, even Bill Clinton will spur lots of gift certificates to Kiva.org this year. Here's a little blurb from Oprah's site about how the organization works:

"A revolutionary idea has made it possible for anyone to help people in Third World countries via the Internet—and it can be addictive! Visitors to Kiva.org can read the story of someone who needs help starting a small business. For as little as $25, they can choose a loan to partially finance—and help lift someone out of poverty in the process. Kiva's thousands of success stories include a peanut butter stand in Uganda, carpet weavers in Afghanistan and a fruit vendor in Vietnam."
And here are the details from the Kiva website. If you're looking for a last minute gift idea, this is a great one.

Kiva.org was born of the following beliefs:
  • People are by nature generous, and will help others if given the opportunity to do so in a transparent, accountable way.
  • The poor are highly motivated and can be very successful when given an opportunity.
  • By connecting people we can create relationships which exceed beyond financial transactions, and build a global community expressing support and encouragement of one another.
Kiva.org promotes:
  • Dignity: Person-to person lending encourages partnership relationships as opposed to benefactor relationships. Partnership relationships are characterized by mutual dignity and respect.
  • Accountability: Loans encourage more accountability than donations where repayment is not expected.
  • Transparency: The Kiva.org website is an open platform where communication can flow freely between the developing and developed worlds.
Step 1: Choose a business

The businesses on our site are always changing. They are being uploaded by our microfinance partners around the world. You can find a new business on the home page or on the Businesses 'In Need' page.

Step 2: Make a loan

When you have selected a business, you can make a loan using your credit card (via PayPal). You can loan as little as $25 at a time. Checking out is easy and safe because of PayPal.

Step 3: Receive journals and payments

Periodically, you will hear back from the business you sponsor. Partner representatives (often loan officers) write directly to the website to keep you informed on the progress of the business. If you choose, you can receive these via email.

Step 4: Withdraw or re-loan

When your Kiva loan is repaid, you can choose to withdraw your funds or re-loan to a new business.

2 comments:

Julia Denos said...

wow, this is totally fantastic. is it real? i can't believe what a great idea that is, I wish more people knew!

Josephine Cameron said...

I know, isn't it cool? I think slowly more people are getting the word out. I can't wait to try it out!