Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Some bandwagons are worth jumping on

I have been interested in the development of micro-credit ever since I first learned about the principle over a year ago, watching the documentary "Small Fortunes" on BYU TV. The concept seemed deceptively simple. By providing small, unsecured loans to people living in poverty, individuals and families could improve their circumstances through sound business ventures. The ripple effect was felt throughout the communities as goods and services were made available, children were able to go to school, and industry and thrift were modeled as positive ways to live. I supported the idea whole heartedly in principle, but up until now did not know how I could get involved personally. Now I do.

KIVA lets you connect with and loan money to unique businesses in the developing world. For as little as $25 up to as much as you want, you can help provide an individual or group of your choice the funds needed to advance their dreams. There are all sorts of businesses from many different countries to choose from. I decided to support the following: AGRICULTURE in SENEGAL - a motorized irrigation pump will allow a group of people there to expand their farming interests. TEXTILES in KENYA - a woman there embroiders seat covers and tablecloths for sale, her loan will help her move her business to a better location and to buy needed supplies; CLOTHING SALES in TANZANIA - Loan for the purchase of materials for making Batik.

For the price of a nice dinner out with friends I am able to participate in helping these individuals improve their lives. Also, since this is a loan rather than a handout, it will be repaid over time so. My plan is to continue to re-loan this money over and over again to help as many people as I can.

Why do this? As I stated on my Loaner Page: I believe in the words of Edward Everett Hale who said: “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Many thanks to the Pondering Pig for his own efforts at supporting this good cause and providing the information and challenge for others to share the blessings.

1 comment:

Marie said...

I'm so excited about this! You posted this blog a few days before you first commented on my blog, so it wasn't one I'd read yet. Thank you for putting the Kiva links on your sidebar -- that's what got me started.

I've been interested in microfinance too. I first heard about it at BYU and thought what a rewarding overseas jobs could be had by those with degrees in economics or finance who wanted to administer microfinance loans. Alas, I didn't have such a degree or any interest in getting such a degree. I wanted to participate and made a few donations to smaller microfinance organizations, including one that my mom found here in Utah run by a woman who provides loans to women who want to buy livestock for home dairy and meat businesses. In fact, Mom just sent off some money today -- enough to enable the purchase of a pig.

But the genius of Kiva, (as it appears from the reading I've done in the last hour), is that it lets each individual lender have so much control and so much information about what's being done with their money. I trusted the livestock microcredit lady 90%, but there was always the nagging fear that all the money we donated might not be getting to its destination. And let's be honest -- it's so much easier when you get to see exactly the good your gift is doing in the world. I was the co-chair of the service committee in my congregation a couple of years ago and organized a service project at a local halfway house for women and children with substance abuse issues (it's called the House of Hope). The establishment was very worthy and those running it were utterly devoted, working to the point of exhaustion, but they had trouble getting community volunteers for one main reason -- volunteers usually like to have some interaction with those who they're helping, and at this particular halfway house confidentiality issues meant that the women and children were never seen by volunteers, and consequently they got very few volunteers. Sad, but true. Kiva seems to understand the power of letting those who give see their gifts at work in specific lives. It works with human nature. I love it! I'm going to get started right away -- I didn't use up all my personal days at work so I have some extra money coming this paycheck.

Thank you so much, Belladonna!

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