The Gift of Giving

Kiva means "unity" in Swahili

Kiva means “unity” in Swahili

Australians are some of the wealthiest people on the planet and for me that translates to a need to share my good fortune with others who don’t have the same advantages and opportunities. A few years ago I discovered Kiva on-line.

Kiva means “unity” in Swahili and is a US-based, not-for-profit which allows you to make micro loans directly to some of the world’s poorest entrepreneurs to help them start or grow businesses. Kiva works with local micro-finance institutions that arrange the loans and collect repayments and keep lenders up to date with the borrower’s progress. The default rate is low and nearly 99% of loans are repaid in full.

So if a woman in Kenya needs $500 to buy seed and fertilizer to grow produce to sell then the money is raised for her on-line with up to 20 global lenders contributing amounts of $US25.00 each. The money loaned is channelled through a local micro-finance organisation (like Kadet in Kenya) and is paid back with no or low interest over time and then is reimbursed to the lender who can then reloan to another entrepreneur – or cash in.

I have chosen to make all my loans to women.

Evidence shows that if a woman controls the business and the profit then the whole family benefits – housing improves, children go to school, medical expenses are taken care of. So far I have made 53 loans for a total “investment” of around $US400 plus a few extra dollars donated to Kiva to help with running costs.

Instead of buying a milestone birthday gift for a friend who has everything, I gave her Kiva dollars to spend. Another friend “received” a goat via Tear Australia’s Useful Gifts. Giving this way means that we are not putting more (often useless) “stuff” out there in the world and both giver and receiver feel good about helping another person or family that they have never met.


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