Sunday, May 27, 2007


Kiva - loans that change lives

Can the cost of a meal out, or a movie with snacks, be a force for peace in the world?

In 2006, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a man named Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank for their work with microfinance: not small business loans, but TINY business loans, often less than $1,000. Over the next several months, I became interested in news stories about microlending, and the idea that an amount of money that seemed small to me could aid an entrepreneur in a developing country to improve the prosperity of a business, a family and a community.

What an appealing idea. But, until I heard about Kiva, I knew of no way to add any of our own resources to the effort. That changed yesterday when I sat down at my computer to learn about this amazing organization.

Kiva is a non-profit group that lets me (or you) connect with and loan money to small businesses in the developing world using a computer and the internet. From their website, you can help sponsor a business of your choice for as little as $25 (charged to your credit card). Your contribution is consolidated with those made by other lenders into a loan of as little as a few hundred dollars and loaned, through a micro-credit organization, to a specific borrower for a specific need.

This is not a donation; it is an unsecured loan (with the possibility that it cannot be repaid), made for a specific time period with a specific repayment schedule. When the loan is repaid, you can choose to reinvest with a new borrower or to withdraw your funds.

I won’t try to explain more than that - the website does a WAY better job than I can. I WILL say that exploring the website and setting ourselves up as micro-financiers was fun, interesting, and rewarding, and the website is designed to keep it that way: profiles of borrowers and lenders (you can see profiles of others who have lent to “your” borrowers); a link to your portfolio, showing the status and analysis of your loans; journals describing the progress of the borrowers.

For Odel and me, as full-time RV’ers, the Kiva website is an inspiring way to participate in a larger community effort for positive change - without the need to be anchored in a physical community. I see it as a direct opportunity to wage PEACE, and I am most grateful.


  1. Thanks for the Kiva link. I've heard about the micro loan idea for years and am looking forward to studying the website.

    I enjoy your travels and recipes.


  2. Laurie so excited about the KIVA link. I copied some of your blog and put it on mine to make my friends aware of how we can change the world with helping others to help themselves. Cnn had a piece about KIVA this morning.
    We are in Union City and will be moving in our house on Thursday. Please come visit if in SF.

  3. Laurie, your commentary about Kiva is so well-written! It conveys your enthusiasm and altruism without being sappy, boringly personal or maxed out on exclamation points. You really are a good writer (this from a former editor...). I'm looking forward to getting involved in Kiva with the kids.

  4. I just heard about this today. How amazing that I am browsing through all my friends blogs to keep up to date with them, and I read your wonderful explanation. You made it very understandable and made me want to check into it further. Thanks. Laurie. Sue