Kiva.org: A Hand Up, Not A Hand Out

Have you ever heard of the phrase “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, but TEACH a man to fish and you feed him for life”?  Kiva.org is an organization that doesn’t teach men and women to fish as much as, with your help, it gives them the tools to be able to catch fish.

Kiva.org is a non-profit organization that works with what’s called “micro-lenders” in other countries to facilitate loans between you and an a would-be entrepreneur.  This is NOT a place where you give money away.  At Kiva.org you LOAN people money, as little as $25, to start or expand the business of their dreams.  Here’s how it works:  You give Kiva $25.  They then loan the money to what they call a “Field Partner”, what I referred to as a “micro-lender” above, and then the Field Partner loans the money to a small business person to get their idea off the ground.  Once this small business person’s business is making money, they repay the loan to the Field Partner, who then gives it back to Kiva.org, who then gives it back to you.  At that point, you can then take the money back, or, you can loan it out again.

Think about that for a minute:  Let’s say you’re a jewelry maker and you go to Kiva.org and there’s a woman looking to start a business making necklaces.  You loan this mother of six somewhere in Africa $25 to start a business making necklaces, for example.  She then can buy beads and wire and start making and then selling the necklaces.  She then repays her loan.

But the beautiful part?  You’ve just given someone their dignity.  Which is worth a hell of a lot more than twenty-five lousy dollars.  Dignity, and a way to feed her family, are priceless gems to a woman looking for independence.

If you’re looking for a way to effect change in our world, to give men and woman a helping hand up, not a hand-out that only works for them today, then check out Kiva.org and give a small business person like yourself a start.

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