One popular critic to microfinance is it promotes businesses that don´t bring value. For instance, giving a loan to a woman to start a tomato shop beside 10 other tomato shops. Instead of creating value, it divides it.
This is why one of the biggest bets from Kiva are green loans. Under this category you can have solar lamps, ecological kitchen and other type of products that aim to improve families standard of life.
I was not sure of the effectiveness of this type of loans until I met….. He has a very humble family that lives in the coast of El Salvador and he is a fisherman. One day the loan officer told him about a solar lamp that could take energy from the sun and turn it into light and electricity. After serious discussions with his wife they decided to risk and buy it.
3 months after they bought the solar lamp and with his own words: “It is the best purchase we have ever made, it has changed our lives”.
Before they used candles, which apart from being expensive and dangerous, (they live in a wooden cottage), they did not bring light enough. With this solar lamp, children can now do their homework after the sunset and potential robbers are also espantados. One other curious thing that has changed is now his mother (grandma) wants to go and have dinner with ner grandchildren. Before she did not want to go because she said there was not enough light and you could not see. Now she goes whenever she can.
Moreover, they have found a way to get income from the lamp. As this lamp enables charging cell phones, they offer to their neighbors recharge their batteries at a fair price, bringing advance to their community and saving them time.
These last Christmas have been the first ones with proper light. And this big change hasn´t cost them at all, because the monthly expense in candles thay had is now their monthly fee to Integral and Kiva. After one year, their loan will be fully repaid.
Kiva. Loans that change lives.