It was in December 2006 when I received an email from my brother inviting me to join a cool new website named Kiva.org which allowed individuals with a credit card to finance entrepreneurs in the developing world. Although I had heard of Microfinance I didn’t fully appreciate what it offered the world until I began to research Kiva.org, its field partners, and had read Muhammad Yunus’s book “Banker to the Poor”. I then realized how special the Kiva concept was and knew I had to get involved.
I am now close to the end of my 6 month Kiva Fellowship working with their Peruvian partner Manuela Ramos CrediMujer. Zig-zagging my way through the Amazon Basin, Sierras, and Coast interviewing hundreds of entrepreneurs, writing about their lives, and working side by side incredible loan officers has been one amazing experience.
But the best part about this Fellowship has been discovering that there is no Microfinance/NGO scam… the system works. The working poor are responsible financial clients, the Microfinance Institutions offer valuable, fair services, and these small loans really do change lives! Every entrepreneur I interviewed agreed their life had improved after receiving a loan. Even when an entrepreneur hadn’t experienced significant economic gains they had discovered self worth, independence, and dignity. Externalities of self worth and dignity include happier, healthier families, environments, and communities!
This trip may be close to over but I’m eager to support Kiva and the Microfinance community for years to come./>