Thursday, July 15, 2010

Lending to Tajikistan: My Kiva loan experience

Have you heard of Kiva? I'd read mentions of it in a few places but it wasn't until a friend announced on Facebook that she was getting addicted to doing Kiva loans that I took the time to look into it.

If you don't know, Kiva is basically an organisation which connects people who need money with people who have it. More specifically, entrepeneurs (mostly in developing countries) ask for a loan to improve or expand their small business, and lenders (mostly in developed countries) pool some money together to lend to them - and it is then repaid (almost every time). I love the idea and the Kiva website is set up so well that it's easy to take part in giving a loan, and I can also see how my friend could get addicted.

Usually you loan money in increments of US$25, and I've started my Kiva experience with that minimum just to see how it works. Once you've decided you want to lend money, you can search through the list of entrepreneurs who have asked for some, see their picture and read a description of why they need the money, and then go for it!

It was a tough choice but in the end I loaned my money to a woman in Tajikistan, just a little older than me, whose home products business (plates, etc) is currently the sole financial support for her family. I knew literally nothing about Tajikistan so that interested me even more. Now I know that Tajikistan is 90% mountains, poor, devastated after civil war, and the location for half of the world's polio cases this year, but nonetheless, things are on the up and up there. Hopefully Kiva loans like the tiny amount I gave are helping this. If you've got a spare twenty-five bucks, go and browse through the Kiva site and see if there are some entrepreneurs you might like to help ou.

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