When a small amount goes a long way.
Kiva provides an opportunity for people with a little bit of extra money to invest in the working poor in developing nations around the world. For as little as $25, you have the opportunity to read through many different loans and choose the person whose story and endeavor inspires you the most. Microlending has been shown to be the most effective way to fight poverty. It was the basis of the Nobel Peace Price Muhammad Yunus was awarded in 2006. Lending through Kiva is a very high yield, low cost way of making a difference. It is easily one of the most rewarding ventures I have embarked on in a long time. While $25 may not be a lot of money to you or me, in some countries that is literally a week's wages.
"Give a man a fish and you feed him for one day. Teach that man how to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime."
While I believe in charity and its role in society, I have a firm conviction that enabling people to help themselves is the best form of giving. In America good ideas and hardworking people almost always have access to capital. Our ideas may not always succeed, but being a citizen almost inherently gives us the right to try. In the rest of the world capital is scarce. There are micro-finance institutions in almost every country that specialize in helping everyday people start or expand their business. These loans are typically $300-400. Kiva groups many small lenders together who each loan out $25 or more and finance the efforts of an individual trying to make a change in his/her own life. The repayment rates on these small loans typically exceeds 98%. This means that as your original loan gets repaid, you can relend it out to another entrepreneur and keep making an impact.
Money is the lifeblood of every company. Having access to capital was the key to starting my photography company and ensuing endeavors like SCUBA dictionary. Therefore, I am committing 2.5% of ALL gross sales from my photography-related businesses to invest in the working poor around the world. Each wedding contract enables me to support 2-3 entrepreneurs, and when their loans are repaid, the money will go to help another set of entrepreneurs. Every little bit helps.