Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I'm Starting a Kiva Microlending Team

A few years ago I decided instead of gift cards or trinkets, that I would give people a $25 Kiva credit to make a microloan for Christmas. I gave a credit to myself as well :-). I had heard of microlending group Kiva on Oprah of all place but was tuned in to microlending when I did a play that featured Noble Peace Prize winner and Microlending Father Mohammed Yunis.

Honestly, back in December 2007 I made a loan and haven’t thought about Kiva a whole lot since. About a year and a half later my loan was paid back in full and I could donate again… but somehow, I never got around to it, until today.

I’d love to give more this Christmas, but frankly I have been donating far too much to lawyers lately and just don’t have the cash to spare. So I went back to Kiva to get a little donation fix with my $25 credit. I made a loan to a mom in El Salvador who needed to buy staples to stock her grocery store. I like the idea of giving to grocery stores because (as people in certain parts of DC know all too well) having a well-stocked grocery store near your home really gives a certain sense of calm and peace that basic needs can be met. A grocery store really serves the whole community.

Anyway, when I logged back in I noticed something truly magical. Of the 10 gifts I gave, 9 people made loans. And of the $250 I spent on the gift certificates... Ready for this? Over 25 loans have been made!! Those 10 gifts were more than doubled. The loans were paid back and re-gifted over and over. WOW! Even more interesting, I loved seeing where my friends gave because their choices were so reflective of them as people.

  • My foodie friend Heidi gave to a restaurant in Uganda. Her sister lives part of the year in Uganda and god knows if Heidi can give to a restaurant she will!
  • Ever-practical Evan gave to an auto repair shop in Lebanon. There aren’t many men to give to on Kiva but he found one! And having seen Evan’s last car, I know he knows the power of a good mechanic.
  • My friend Jenny who has not 1, but 2 smart phones gave to a cell phone store in Paraguay. How perfect!
  • My old boss Susan's funky, artsy, college-aged daughter (who has made about a dozen loans) gave to a consignment clothing store in Bosnia.
  • Ricky, whose got some African roots and a wife with pretty fabulous hair gave to a beauty salon in Ghana.
  • And Fred, my most generous and giving friend, has made loans on every continent but the one that touched me the most was a loan to a mom in Nicaragua who needed a loan to "buy construction materials to change the roof of her house, which is in bad condition." Having had a leaky ceiling for about a year, I know Fred knows what it means to have a solid roof over his head.

All the loans have been repaid or are in process!

Kiva has this new thing called “Teams” and just for fun, I'm starting one. I want to see what kind of an impact my initial Christmas gift in 2007 can make in the world. Thanking of lending through Kiva? Well then I want to recruit you to my lending team, Angela's Angels. If you join my lending team, we can work together to alleviate poverty. Once you're a part of the team, you can choose to have a future loan on Kiva "count" towards our team's impact. The loan is still yours, and repayments still come to you - but you can also choose to have the loan show up in our team's collective portfolio, so our team's overall impact will grow!

Merry Christmas