Another way that technology is improving the life of individuals around the world is through microlending. Microlending allows individuals or groups of individuals to make small “micro” loans to individuals or businesses to help address a specific need.
Kiva is a website that facilitates microlending and allows individuals the ability to make microloans as small as $25. This option makes it extremely easy to lend to individuals or businesses who may be unbankable.
Today I made my first Kiva loan and found the process to be very easy and rewarding. First you register an account through e-mail (or link your Facebook account). Next you search for an individual who you would like to support. My primary interest is in entrepreneurship so I searched through the Kiva website while applying a filter for “Start-Up.” There are many other filters you can apply depending upon your area of interest.
For my first time using Kiva I contributed to a microloan for an entrepreneur in Tanzania who was seeking $450 to purchase a sewing machine to increase her business throughput. I like the idea that the microloan proceeds were going towards an asset that would help the entrepreneur generate additional throughput, and therefore has the potential to increase her quality of life on a recurring basis by increased throughput of the sewing machine.
When lending on Kiva you have the ability to fund a minimum of $25 up to the full asking amount. The site uses PayPal for payment which makes the transaction on the lender end fairly easy and straightforward. Although Kiva doesn’t take a fee it does include a recommended Kiva donation amount that may be deselected.
Overall the process was very simple and I plan on returning to Kiva on a regular basis. Below are a few screenshots of the Kiva microlending process.
The first is the layout of the borrower profiles. The profiles show an image of the borrower and a description of their story and the planned use of proceeds.
Next is an overview of the area where the loan proceeds will be used. In this case, Tanzania.
You can also view who has contributed to the same cause. There is also the option to remain anonymous. For this particular micro-loan there were 17 individual contributors:
Kiva also allows for the ability to self-organize into teams of life-minded lenders. Teams are organized in terms of businesses, common interests as well as other areas of commonality. There were five teams who participated in this particular micro-loan:
In hindsight Kiva was something I wish I would have participated in long ago. I had heard about the site years ago and just recently revisited Kiva after reading Abundance. Beyond global lending, local, state, and national lenders and organizations could benefit from the Kiva model give the ease of funding a micro-loan and the low cost of entry.
Perhaps the most engaging aspect of Kiva is the social aspect. The ability to directly influence the progress of an entrepreneur through a minimal contribution is very appealing.
Image Credit: Kiva