Almost 2 Billion, or about 1 in 4 people in the world are “unbanked.” This means they don’t use or have access to a bank or financial institution of any kind. As a normal American, this probably seems weird, but about 3% of Americans are unbanked. In other sections of the world, this is common, and making a livelihood depends on daily work and a small business of some sort. This is where Kiva comes in.
What Does Kiva Do?
Founded in 2005 in San Francisco, Kiva is an international nonprofit. Their mission is to help underserved communities thrive by providing access to money. They crowdfund loans and unlock capital for the underserved workers. They help students pay for tuition, women start businesses, farmers invest in equipment and families afford emergency care. 100% of donated funds are used for these purposes.
When you deposit money into Kiva, you can scroll through available loans and give $25 at a time to fund them. This allows you to spread your reach to multiple goals. As the loan is repaid (interest free), the cycle repeats and you are able to fund more loans. They post people’s stories and circumstances, so you can help feel a connection to those you serve.
I started with $250 in 2014 but due to the continuous nature of Kiva, have cycled that through to be $850 across 34 loans in 16 countries. So far my loans have a 100% repayment. I enjoy the occasional email with updates on the loans and projects.
Loans usually last a few years and 97% are repaid. They have a 4 out of 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and work only on donations and grants. Money gets to the borrower through field agents or PayPal. They operate in 80 countries.
I love the fact that this is a perpetual giving machine. While I don’t make money off these loans, my money is still working for me in a way. It’s working to help improve the lives of people with struggles and challenges I’ll never understand. If you feel so inclined, I encourage you to join me on Kiva (no benefit to me, other than seeing how many readers join). If this doesn’t appeal to you, perhaps you know someone who might be interested in this. I think this would be a very thoughtful gift for certain people, and you can gift Kiva money through this link.