Sunday, May 1, 2016

#68 - It's good to help

Kiva is a crowd-sourced funding site that I had learned about from my sister Diana.  I must admit that I find crowd-sourcing intriguing.  I am a big user of Kickstarter and will occasionally contribute to Indiegogo campaigns.  However, I'm not a user of Gofundme.  If you are familiar with these sites, you will know that although you may get something back from your contribution (for example, a product or t-shirt), the funds that are received by people through the sites are not expected to be repaid in dollars.

Kiva works a little differently.  When you make a contribution, you are actually helping to fund a microloan which the recipient is expected to repay (the interest, repayment schedule, and other details vary from one loan to the next).  When the loan is repaid, the money goes into a Kiva account for you which you can use to fund another project or request to have the funds put into your bank account.  In effect, you become a very small lending institution with all of the paperwork handled behind the scenes.

For this goal, I decided that I would donate / loan $100 as a starting point.  (I use the term donate because when the loans are repaid, I plan to keep the money going back out to other projects.)  Over the last week, I've been looking at projects and chose four for funding at a $25 apiece level.  I wanted to spread the money around, so I managed to find a mix of projects and areas of the world where I can help.  My first four loans went to:
  • purchasing a water pump and filtration system for a school in Uganda so that the students and teachers would have access to drinking water during the school day
  • helping a group of five women in India expand their individual businesses that pay for each family's living expenses
  • buying basic tools for a trained blacksmith in Palestine so he can set up his own forge as a second source of income 
  • allowing a restaurant in Haiti to add small food carts that will create additional jobs in the community

Searching for projects was a big reminder of how fortunate I am.  Though it was tempting to fund campaigns that would make a family's life more comfortable (through simple things like financing a latrine for their dwelling), I tried to find projects that had the potential to create something positive for the entire community where they were located.  I look forward to seeing how the process continues and sending the money out again on additional loans.

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