Michael Cleland


Social Good

Give something different this Christmas


Imagine being able to lend small amounts of money directly to someone in the developing world. Imagine helping some of the world’s poor to start or grow a business. Think how this would help their families and their community.

Well, it’s possible! I was reading Bill Clinton’s book, Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World – and he talked about Kiva, which is a San Francisco-based organisation that lets people like you and I lend money to people in the developing world for their businesses – like raising goats, selling vegetables at market or making bricks.

The concept is microfinance – small loans of up to a few hundred dollars are given to entrepreneurs who are too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans, and are paid back after about a year. Bangladeshi banker Muhammad Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for being instrumental in microfinance in his country.

When you visit the Kiva website at www.kiva.org, you can search amongst pre-screened entrepreneurs in a variety of categories including agriculture, transport, food or clothing, and read what project these entrepreneurs want the money for, where they are located, how much they need and when they’ll pay it back.

You can contribute as little as AU$30, and other people registered can also contribute to the same entrepreneur, until the requested loan amount is reached. So you could be among 20 or 30 people  globally, who are all helping a cooperative of women in Sierra Leone who run a food stall, to be able to purchase dishes and foodstuffs to increase their income.

Or maybe you’ll help a Cambodian family buy more wood to use in their furniture-making business.

When the entrepreneur pays back their loan you get your money back. You don’t make any money; you’re just lending your money. Once the loan is paid back, you can either withdraw it from Kiva or put your money back into another enterprise.

You’re helping to build a sustainable business that will provide income to feed, clothe, house and educate their family long after the loan is paid back.

In two years, Kiva has lent over $35 million to 50,000 enterprises in the developing world with 98.25 percent of loans repaid.

I was so excited about this I had to write about it for my staff newsletter at the City of Casey. It’s kind of charity, but it is helping people help themselves.

At this time of year, when buying gifts is top of mind, why not think about giving a Kiva gift voucher as a gift? For the person who has everything, it is a perfect gift!

This year, Executive Services is forgoing the traditional Kris Kringle gifts and contributing to Kiva instead – check their profile on Kiva at www.kiva.org/lender/cityofcasey

City of Casey’s Executive Services’ first 5 entrepreneurs

  1. Ehiorobo Aimerobiriye from Nigeria – a store keeper who will wants to buy more stock for her store
  2. Agnes Oppong from Ghana – sells onions and peppers at a market and will buy more stock for her stall
  3. Heang Nay Im from Cambodia – buying a generator to power lighting when her husband’s theater puts on performances
  4. Ni Ketut Kamar Adiani from Bali, Indonesia – she breeds pigs to sell and wants to buy more piglets and feed
  5. Sokha Kong Group from Cambodia – a group of 9 women who have pooled together for one loan from rice growing to bicycle repair

Author: Michael Cleland

Michael is a passionate web geek who is sure that most problems can be solved with a big bowl of ice cream. A believer in social good and fan of great, useful content, Michael is an advocate for web accessibility, usability and mobile web based on open standards. You can find Michael on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. You can read more on Michael in the About page.

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