Back in July last year I took my first steps in the Kiva lending programme when I loaned $25 to a woman in Tajikistan who needed some help to expand her home products business. Since then I've also given a loan to a woman in Togo and have seen Kiva become ultra-successful thanks to getting Oprah's endorsement - one of my friends who signed up to give a loan at Christmas time had trouble finding anyone needing a loan since so many people were getting involved in the lending side - fantastic news!
Anyway - let me get to the point! - my lovely lady in Tajikistan has now completed paying off the loan (and ahead of schedule, I believe!). Which I presume means that her business has been going well and she's been able to generate some extra income for her family. It also means that it's time for me to start choosing my next loan, a process I always set aside some nice quiet time for - perhaps on the weekend. I've just had a quick browse and seen some people in need of loans in places like Colombia, Ecuador, Ukraine and Cambodia - for all kinds of different small businesses - I'll just need to find someone who I particularly want to help.
While I'm talking about Kiva, I'm on their bloggers' list so they notify me when they have important info to pass on, and I just heard about their Kiva Fellows system which is taking applications now (closing April 23). Kiva Fellows are volunteers who work for a few months in a country where Kiva gives loans, interviewing businesses, promoting awareness and blogging (among other things). Their FAQ tells you heaps more if you're interested.