Helping Others Through Kiva.org

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If you’ve been reading AFQ for a while, you may know that I did my very own version of The Happiness Project last year and had a great time exploring different ways to improve happiness. Research has shown that we can improve our own happiness as part of being generous and giving to others, in particular those who may really need the help. As part of my list of 43 Things To Do Before I’m 44, I wanted to make a loan through a company called Kiva.

I read about Kiva a while ago on another website, and was intrigued with the concept. Kiva is a non-profit company that helps people from impoverished nations get access to funding for businesses that they are running or attempting to start up. These people typically don’t have access to banking institutions that can give them financial assistance and the opportunity to better themselves and their communities. Through Kiva, they go through a loan approval process and people like you and me can pool resources to fund their loans.

Veronica Kiva100% of every dollar pledged on Kiva goes directly towards funding loans and Kiva doesn’t take a cut. I love that everything I pay goes directly to the person and there is no middleman to take a piece of the pie. Obviously there’s risk involved as with any loan. The business may not become profitable and the person may not be able to pay back the loan. I decided to start small with a $25 loan since I can afford to lose $25 for a good cause.

I set about reading through the available applicants and trying to figure out what types of businesses and locations meant the most to me. I definitely wanted to support a female and I narrowed down the area to countries in Africa. I have a friend at work who is from Africa so I talked to her about the different regions and got information about the countries.

I settled on Uganda since that nation is quite impoverished and many are struggling to afford basic necessities to even just live, let alone thrive. There were all kinds of stories and needs to choose from. Some people wanted livestock for their farms. Some were starting cosmetic businesses. There were large loans up to several thousand dollars and there were small loans. It was interesting to read through the different needs.

I found the perfect match! I chose to help fund Veronica who is a 20 year old woman from Kyenjojo Uganda. She started a small general store 2 years ago and had applied for a loan of $125 so that she could expand her business and carry more inventory of basics like milk, bread and soap. Veronica is using the profits from her store to pay for school for her younger brother and hopes to earn enough to put him through college.

Veronica is also taking classes in life skills and business so that she can learn to better provide for her family and run her business. As luck would have it, she had already received funding for $100 of her loan and my pledge of $25 would complete her ask. I couldn’t think of a more worthy cause than giving $25 to someone dedicated to educating her brother and providing the best future possible. To give you perspective, the average annual income of a person in her area is the equivalent of $1700. For an entire year!

Hopefully my small contribution makes a big difference in her life. I’m excited to hear about Veronica’s store expansion and can’t wait to get updates! I encourage you to think about funding a loan through Kiva if you are looking to make a charitable donation. I’m not affiliated with them in any way and don’t get anything if you choose to donate with them. Read up on what they do and carefully choose your applicant so you know what you’re getting into.

I’d love to hear back if you help someone out.

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