A farmer in Tanzania asks to borrow twenty-five dollars, to plant peppers in his yard in order to feed his family. Six months later, you receive repayment and an email update – the peppers are growing so well that elephants have begun invading the field and stealing them. You lend the farmer the twenty-five dollars again, and he’s able to build a fence around his field to keep the elephants out. Within months, you receive your money back again, and learn that the farmer has successfully produced enough peppers to sell to his neighbors – he’s now running a successful agricultural business.
Certainly by now, you’re familiar with Kiva, the online lending portal that allows donors to make person-to-person loans to support entrepreneurial endeavors of the working poor. Not only has Kiva revolutionized giving by connecting donors with individuals and their specific, concrete goals – but it has given philanthropy rapidly renewable resources; when a microloan is paid back, donors can reinvest the same funds in another project… which means your twenty dollars can cycle through several entrepreneurs and projects each year – or back and forth between you and one man while he reaches new milestones as a pepper farmer.
Success stories about microloans abound:
Phal An, a rice winemaker in Cambodia, used a $700 Kiva loan to purchase more rice to meet the demands of ten wine distributors who sell her wine across the country. She uses the rice byproducts from the winemaking process to feed the family’s pigs, and has recently been able to turn a profit on excess pig feed.
Grace Ayaa, a peanut butter manufacturer in Uganda, used a $475 Kiva loan to finance a refrigerator for storing extra inventory. Her business now successfully supports a family of fifteen (six biological, and nine adopted) children.
Petronilla Shivachi, a grocer in Kenya, used a $500 Kiva loan to stock new products in her store, including cold soda and mobile phone cards. The phone cards alone attracted 70 new customers in just four days. Since then, her business has been so profitable that she has opened and staffed two additional stores and a restaurant.
Kiva is certainly one of the most impactful innovations we’ve seen in the world of philanthropy. The thrill of making a difference can be addictive! Check it out now at Kiva.org.