One thing I kept coming back to when researching charities this summer is that while it’s great to give money to people in need, it’s only part of the solution when it comes to combating global poverty.
People generally need food, medicine and shelter immediately. That has to happen, but it is a short-term solution. In the long term, people need to find ways to get out of poverty for good. Nobody wants to live on charity for their entire lives.
That’s why I was delighted to discover the Kiva Foundation, which works hard to help people generate wealth and set an example of hope for their community.
Kiva is an interesting organization. They provide microloans to people in third-world countries who want to start their own businesses. Once people are able to become entrepreneurs, they are often able to work their way into the middle class.
What’s fascinating is that in developing nations it costs very little to get a start up business off the ground. Nearly all of them can be started for less than $1,000; most can be launched for $200 or $300. But, no bank will provide loans of any size to people in the third world without experience and collateral.
Kiva finds these budding entrepreneurs and then allows people like you and me to fund their loans. They have an excellent track record. More than 98 percent of their loans are paid back, and the vast majority of their microloans go to women.
I decided to start out by financing loans to 10 entrepreneurs around the world. When their loans are paid back, I’ll use the money to fund 10 more – and I’ll keep doing so into the foreseeable future.
This is exciting for me on many levels. I can remember when I was just starting out in business, and what a thrill it was for me to make my first sale. Now, I know that these people will get to experience that as well. It also feels good to know that I am helping to make a difference not only today, but into the future as well.
These people not only will live better lives because they own their own businesses; the people in their communities will be able to see what they have accomplished. That may inspire them to try to start their own businesses, too. The Kiva Foundation hopes this will help break the cycle of poverty in so many ravaged communities.
I’m proud to support Kiva in their efforts, and I encourage other people like you to do the same.
They are good people who deserve our help. And, they demonstrate that it costs very little to turn a life around.