21 Ways: (2) Kiva.org

Last year, I cut back on the stuff I gave for Christmas. While my younger siblings still got books, other family members got gift certificates to various charities in leiu of gifts. Thus, this. Each day from here to 2010, I’ll be posting one charity, NGO or non-profit I can get behind in the spirit of giving.

Kiva - loans that change lives
Karl Fisch is all over this one. Still, it’s one of my favorites, so I’m keeping it.

Kiva founders Matt Flannery and Jessica Jackley hatched it idea after a trip to East Africa led them to three realizations:

  • We are more connected than we realize.
  • The poor are very entrepreneurial.
  • Stories connect people in a powerful way.

These realizations led them to one of the most prosperous P2P microcredit institutions in the world. Similar to the Grameen Bank Kiva lets lenders loan amounts of $25 or more to those applicants in developing nations working to better their stations in life and their communities. What’s different about Kiva is that it acts as a network, making connections between lenders and microcredit institutions around the world. Here’s a down and dirty on how Kiva works.

According to Kiva’s most recent newsletter, after 50 months of operation, the org has raised $105,968,360 for 260,967 entrepreneurs in 173 countries.

Most astounding for me is Kiva’s 98% repayment rate.

As the loans are repaid, many of the entrepreneurs will blog about the effect the money and how their ventures are progressing. As a classroom tool, this is a way to help kids get in touch with other parts of the world and build global citizenship.

I keep at least $75 in Kiva loans.

As soon as a payment is made by an entrepreneur, I’m given the option of re-investing, donating to Kiva’s operations or withdrawing my money. I can’t imagine withdrawing my money.

Like Donors Choose, Kiva offers a gift certificate option that makes for a spiffy gift.

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