It took a mere $25 on my part… plus $25 (or more) on the part of several other individuals… to add up to the $50,000 required to fund Mark Jonathan of Solar Solutions PNG Ltd. in Papua New Guinea in his aim to “bring a range of high-quality and affordable Barefoot Power solar lighting products to address a critical need for lighting and other basic energy uses in Papua New Guinea (PNG)” and “bring[ing] clean energy far into rural areas as well as in major cities.”
And together, we did it… thanks to Kiva.
Kiva is a “non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty” (more about them on this page). For as little as $25 (100% of which goes toward funding loans) anyone – that means YOU! – can get involved with Kiva and give direct, practical assistance to someone with little or no access to traditional means of borrowing… through the beauty of microfinance.
Your contribution to a Kiva borrower is actually a loan (with a certain, usually very minimal, amount of risk) which goes toward helping the borrower you choose to fund a project which they would not otherwise be able to accomplish. When your loan to Kiva is repaid, you have the option of taking back the money for yourself or reinvesting it into a loan to another borrower. (I’ve always opted to reinvest my repayments, as I love the idea that the same $25 has helped multiple individuals!)
I first got involved with Kiva back in 2007 with a loan of $25 to a woman named Mariam in Tanzania for her tailoring business. I had such a great experience that I’ve been contributing to the Kiva phenomenon ever since whenever I’ve been able (here’s my portfolio), both through my own loans to borrowers and also through Kiva gifts to others. So far, of the 21 loans I’ve made, 20 have been fully paid back – no defaults – and my most recent loan is currently in the process of being paid back.
I am so grateful that an organization like Kiva exists, that I discovered them for myself, and that through them I’ve had the opportunity to touch the lives of so many people in such a simple way… and all for the cost of a restaurant meal.
I encourage you to take a few minutes to check out the Kiva web site and – if you are inspired by the ability to offer practical assistance through a relatively small sacrifice – get involved by giving a hand to someone with fewer resources than you.
It may well be the best 25 you will ever spend!
Are you involved with Kiva?
Does the idea of microfinance intrigue you?
Inspired by NaBloPoMo writing prompt for Thursday, December 19, 2013:
What was the last donation you made?