Meet Esthere Uwamahoro. She is 33 years old, married with two children and lives in Kigali, Rwanda. She is in the parts trade and needs help.
In short, she needs a micro loan to expand her business. Her hope is that if she has the money to buy more spare parts, she will have a wider selection to offer her customers. She wants her business to be successful so that she can earn more money for her family.
Normally 99, 99% of us would never hear of Esthere's condition. How can we? We are halfway the world.
Fortunately we can hear her story thanks to Kiva. We can also help by lending her the money.
Kiva: Re-define Charity
You know that old saying, "Give a man a fish, and he eat one day. But teach him how to fish, and he will eat it for a lifetime?"
Well, that's the philosophy behind Kiva. The goal of Kiva is simple: to connect people who have money and are willing to lend it to people who live in poverty and desperately want to start or expand a business, but have no money to do it. This is especially important because, unlike the US, financing for small businesses and capital is not easily accessible in developing countries.
The idea is brilliant. After all, the best way to fight poverty is to help people stand on their own two feet. Instead of feeling helpless, Kiva helps restore people's dignity, self-esteem and respect.
Kiva works because all the money we give is lent to entrepreneurs in developing countries. They use this money to open supermarkets, buy farm animals or start small clothing stores. They buy fertilizer for their crops, add a source to a vegetable garden or even buy products for their stores.
In addition, 81% of all loans granted through Kiva go to female entrepreneurs.
The keyword here is loan . The money that we send via Kiva is reimbursed 98% of the time. That repayment percentage is amazing.
How Kiva works
Kiva works with thousands of microfinance institutions around the world (Kiva calls them Field Partners). These Field Partners are located in Mongolia, South Africa, Lebanon, Peru and almost everywhere where people live in poverty.
Every entrepreneur who needs a micro-loan goes to his or her nearest Field Partner institution and applies for one. The Field Partner creates a repayment contract (which usually contains a mandatory savings phrase) and then uploads the story and photos to Kiva.
Then, lenders like us browse the stories, choose one that speaks to our hearts, and a loan. Loans can range from $ 25, or we can choose to fully finance the loan (which happens a lot more than you would expect!). Below you can see an example of the Kiva site.
Once the loan has been paid, it is up to Field Partners to collect the payments on that loan and send it to Kiva, who then sends it back to us.
Everyone wins here: we can help someone who really needs it (good stewardship); the entrepreneur starts a business and improves his or her life; a family is flourishing; and we get our money back, which we can then lend to someone else if we choose.
The most amazing part
Kiva is incredibly popular - and it's really inspiring. Do you want proof?
When I first read about Esthere, she needed about $ 400 to complete her loan. I just went back to check her profile and now she only needs $ 325. Hopefully her loan will be fully funded at the end of the day and she can expand her business.
Last week I went to Kiva to give someone a loan, and something incredible happened. There was not a single person on the site who needed a loan. 100% of the entrepreneurs were fully funded and the Field Partners had not had a chance to get new stories on the site.
If you're worried about whether Kiva is a legitimate charity, you don't sweat it. Charity Navigator has given Kiva a 4-star rating, which means that you can trust a charity.
Kiva is a great charity because the organization really helps change people's lives. If you give through Kiva, you help someone improve his or her life in a way that will last. And you get your investment back. You don't just give, you borrow.
It is easier to adjust your budget with Kiva because your loan is coming back. You can then choose to transfer the money back to your bank account, or you can choose to pass the money on to someone else who needs it. With just $ 25 or $ 50 floating through Kiva, dozens of people around the world can help. This is why Kiva is one of my favorite charities.
Have you ever borrowed money through Kiva? If yes, with whom did you help? Has your loan been repaid?
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