July 5, 2006

Recently I came across Kiva, an organization dedicated to microcredit. In short, Kiva works with local lenders in developing countries to get cash from individuals to entrepreneurs. The money is eventually returned to the local lender, who may charge interest to cover administrative costs, and the lender returns the principal to Kiva. Kiva then makes the money available to the individual who donated it. Microcredit repayment rates are reportedly well over 90%, even higher than the repayment rates for mortgages here in America.

Upon receiving my first paycheck I decided to give this a try, having heard so much about the success of Grameen Bank and other microcredit lenders. I read the biographies of the fourteen men and women in need and decided to contribute to loans for four of them: Edgar Pilataxi of Ecuador, Felipe Gutierrez also of Ecuador, Nen Phan of Cambodia, and Margaret Muthoni of Kenya. If you notice that these or any other of the businesses in need are still waiting for funds, you can contribute as little as $25 using a credit card. Kiva uses PayPal to collect funds, but (1) you don't need a PayPal account if you have a credit card and (2) PayPal has waived transaction fees so all of your donation reaches Kiva.

Here's hoping that my entrepreneurs can do better for themselves! I hope to hear from them soon.