Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Get Personal with Kiva

This video shows New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof personally following up on a loan he made through Kiva to a baker in Kabul. As a card carrying optimist, I am often baffled by people who find the world a complication of impossible problems. Certainly there’s a lot to be done and done quickly, but there is also cause for hope. People do want to help each other out, but often they just don’t know how to go about it. Enter Kiva and its smart use of the Internet to make contributing to other people’s dreams compelling, accountable and very personal. Kiva is founded on the fantastic principle that the way to change the world is one person at a time. The idea is simple and draws on the ground-breaking work on microcredit done by Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, who were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. Through Kiva you can make small loans to people who want to get ahead, in places where that is often not an easy thing to do. The key word is loans and all but a small fraction of them are repaid. It is a classic case of thinking local and going global. Kiva works with organizations on the ground in places where a couple of hundred dollars can make a difference to someone with entrepreneurial spirit. A woman wanting to expand her restaurant in Mexico, another in Cambodia who needs to increase her retail stock of fish, a family that wants to build their daughter’s tailoring business. What’s great about Kiva is not just that you can learn about what different businesses need, you can also read about the other lenders and their motivations. We may not all being able to pay a personal visit as Nicholas Kristof did, but the Web certainly can draw us closer together. Kiva is helping to make the world a better place one person at a time. Way to go.