Teach a Person to Fish

This past week I got my first email letting me know that Milly, the woman whose business I invested in over in Uganda, started paying back her loan I helped finance. She’s expanded her 1-room home so that her family of 6 children has more space – most women make their crafts at home. No, I’m not a heartless Scrooge. I’m a big-hearted microlender with Kiva. And you should be too!

BusinessWeek calls Kiva a MySpace of microfinance, but that’s probably not exactly correct. It’s quite a bit more organized and the people whose businesses that need loans have been vetted before being posted on there. Kiva works with established organizations in the country who determine which businesses are most likely to be able to pay back their loans. So there’s less risk for the lender (me). I’m not making any money on this loan – just earning Karma points.

What you might not know is that the majority of the people recieving these loans cannot speak or write English. They may not be able to write in even their own language. I had lucky enough to work with Premal Shah, president of Kiva. I ran into him on the street in Palo Alto one evening – the passion and excitement that he has for Kiva cannot be contained with you talk to him about it. (He likes the recite the proverb below when explaining what Kiva does.) So he was saying that since the lendees can’t read English, the majority of the time they just look for their picture on the Kiva site and get excited about it. And yes, they have access to the internet – each village tends to have one reasonably priced internet cafe. (Unlike here where you get charge an arm and a leg for a minute of internet access.) Or there’s one not too far away.

You have money just sitting in your bank account that’s earning very little interest. Why not take your spare $25, $50, or $100 and put it into Kiva. Once Milly’s loan is paid-up, I’m going to keep my money in there and re-invest in someone else.

“Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day.
Teach a man to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life.”
~Chinese Proverb

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