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Its a great idea is to provide micro loans to businesses across the world that can't access banks. I really feel like I'm making a difference in the world and you can actually see and choose the people you are helping and watch them pay back the loans and then you can relend it.
A great way to give something worthwhile to the worldwide community. This website allows you to contribute micro-loans for as little as $25 in order to help start a business of your choice in another country. Once the owner has made the money back you are repaid your money and can reinvest or simply feel good about doing a good deed.
Kiva has changed the way I give. While living in Uganda for 6 months in 2009, I saw microfinance at its roots. I had a friend who lives in a slum in Kampala who pulled his family out of poverty thanks to microfinance. Kiva is actually ending poverty.You can give $25 at a time and actually create jobs and help people achieve a higher standard of living. Then 6 months later, you get your money back.
Since January 2009 I've made small deposits every month, and watched them snowball. As money was repaid by the borrowers, I had more to lend. I'm up to 10 loans each month now, and it feels great!
It's important to note that Kiva's main business is micro-lending; although they are a registered charity, most of the money people put into the site is loaned and repaid, not given as a donation.
Kiva is great for PR and getting the word out about microfinance and development projects; however, beyond the feel good aspect, this is not so much a tool for development and empowerment, but a way for small NGOs and non-profits to raise their profile and garner public support. A good first step, but not the miracle its portrayed to be.
My favourite way of giving back - providing loans that change lives. Kiva is a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.
Great holiday present for socially-minded friends and relatives; love the business model of providing microloans.
Cons: More commitment than the average charitable donation; when giving as a gift I sometimes get nervous that the recipient won't follow through with selecting a charity.