Innovative charity for the working poor in the Third World

Innovative charity for the working poor in the Third World

Want to make a difference in the life of a specific person or family halfway around the world without spending a dime? How about making them a micro-loan? The charity is called Kiva and they match up donors with as little as $25 with poor entrepreneurs in the developing world who need capital to start or expand their businesses. Keep in mind, this is a loan. You will be repaid (and you can turn it around and loan it to a new business.)

Micro-credit is not new. Groups like Catholic Relief Services and Caritas have been doing this for years in the Third World. We even had a few articles about micro-credit programs in Sri Lanka and Burma in Catholic World Report. But what makes this different is that Kiva matches an individual loaner up with an individual borrower.

In a way, it’s like those adopt-a-poor-kid programs from years ago on late-night TV. You get to pick a particular borrower and you receive regular updates on their progress.

None of the money you loan is used for Kiva’s administration costs. They raise donations for that separately. And if you make the loan using PayPal there are no processing costs (as there is with a regular credit card payment) so more of the money reaches the borrowers.

Incidentally, you don’t receive any interest on your loan. You get back only what you lent. But the borrower does pay a few percent interest to the local micro-finance organization to fund their operations. Kiva works through local groups already in place doing this type of work.

It’s not a substitute for regular charity, i.e. giving alms to the poor, but it is a form of charity nonetheless since you are depriving yourself of working capital, however small. I think it’s admirable and Melanie and I might take part.

[Link via Signal vs. Noise]

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