Loans That Change Lives

13 / 05 / 2016

By Terry McMeekin.

For a number of years I have been supporting women in developing countries through a non-profit organisation named Kiva.  Kiva supporters provide micro finance loans to individuals and groups aiming to reduce poverty and improve peoples’ lives.

Individuals make loans with the minimum being US$25.  Teams of lenders join to fund small loans used for purposes such as purchasing agricultural supplies, ampoule for home renovations, schools fees and to set up small commercial and retail businesses. The Kiva site provides you with a short bio, photograph and information about the borrowers, meaning that you can select their gender, nationality, age and the purpose for each loan. The money is paid via paypal and Kiva claims that 100% of the dollars you donate go directly towards funding the loans. You can even decide if you wish to make an optional donation to Kiva to help fund the work of their organisation.

The beauty of this form of giving is that as the borrower repays their loan, you are able to regift your donation to someone else or even to have it refunded to you via paypal. You can also do as I do and choose to only fund loans to women and to be quite selective about the purpose of the loan and the country or continent in which they live. I am also a member of a team named Women United who have all decided that they will only make loans to other women.

It is possible that microfinance loans and their repayment may have a negative impact on peoples’ lives. But for women who have little opportunity to borrow from traditional banks in developing countries, I think that the Kiva model gives me a chance to decide where to direct my overseas aid donations. Kiva has no obvious religious affiliation, it works in 84 countries with 300 field partners or local organisations that manage the loans, and has about 1.5 million lenders worldwide. A visit to their website empowers you to believe that you can make a difference!