I was at an accounting party this past weekend where I had a great time. Go ahead and come up with your best shot at what that says about me or accountants in the comments.
The subject of Kiva came up at one point. One of my wife’s coworkers told me about giving Kiva gift certificates to family members at Christmas this year, only to find out that they were having a hard time using them. Why? Because a LOT of people gave Kiva gift certificates this year, leading to every single pending loan on the site being fulfilled.
For those of you not familiar with the site, Kiva is an organization that – through on the ground non-profits – finds small business owners in developing countries who are looking for financing generally in the $1000 range. Lenders – mostly from the United States at this point – can contribute from $25 to the full value of the loans at zero interest. The loans are paid back over time as Kiva cash which can be reinvested in other small businesspeople or cashed out.
The site has received many endorsements from high profile figures including Nicholas Kristof of the NY Times, who flew to Afghanistan to meet the person he loaned money to through Kiva. Bill Clinton has also endorsed the site. It’s even received a plug from the biggest name of all: Oprah.
Here’s a quick clip from Kristof’s trip to Afghanistan to check on the status of his Kiva loan:
Personally, I’ve helped fund two loans so far. Both loans were placed in November and are both 16% repaid to date (they’re scheduled for 12 months). I subscribe to my borrower’s profiles, which gives me automatic updates on their loan statuses. W
hile out for a beer after a broomball game a couple weeks ago, my phone vibrated with a new text message informing me that my borrower in Ecuador just sent in a payment. How cool is that? A furniture maker in Ecuador makes a loan payment, causing a cell phone to vibrate in Eagan, Minnesota.
I’m clearly a fan. If this interests you, get signed up and subscribe to their RSS feed so you’ll get notified when new lending opportunities become available.