Jan 13 2012

Now everyone can play bank to the poor!

Published by at 11:20 pm under South Africa,Top Stories

We’ve all heard the uplifting stories of down-and-out, poor people getting small chances and turning them into magical escapes from poverty for themselves and their families. I’ve often wished I could give a down-and-out, poor guy the lifeline out of his misery. But, then I would quickly shake myself out of my dream, because I thought it was just that – a dream I’m not able to act upon. 

But, last year I discovered I can do something – I can change someone’s life with a loan as small as €25 and later get it back (when he’s on his feet). What’s more: I can choose who I want to help and/or in which country I want to help someone.

And I can see what he and his family look like and receive regular updates on progress with the repayment of my €25 loan. Of course, I could also give more. But, the magic is: €25 does the trick, because we’re dealing here with a “crowd-lending” action (that’s my word for it). And at the end you get your money back. Into your PayPal account. That is, if you don’t decide to finance another poor guy’s business idea.

It’s so much fun for so little time and effort, it’s hard to believe it’s true. And hard NOT to participate.

The not-for-profit organization sits in California and the website is at www.kiva.com.

I started doing my bit last year by lending €25 to a family of clothes manufacturers in Tanzania. Together with a number of lenders around the world we got around €800 together in no time. And about 6 months later the family had bought the stitching machine they wanted and repaid my €25.

This week I “re-loaned” my €25. This time to a cattle trader and his family in Zimbabwe. Here is a photo of the group. (Hope you can see it…might have to be logged in.)

This time the crowd-lenders (37 of them) got over €1,250 together for the cattle traders in just a few days. The group must pay back over 8 months. I’m confident I’ll get my money back (no interest paid). And if I don’t, it’s OK – the people of Zimbabwe have suffered enough under Uncle Bob. They deserve a break.

(I can see pics of the other 36 lenders and contact them, if I want. For instance, there’s a young guy from Berlin in my “lender-crowd” (another word-creation of mine), with outstanding loans to 37 business ideas around the world! I can’t see for how much, but even if it’s only for the minimum (€25), his exposure would still add up to an impressive €925.)

But, that just by the way. The point is: Kiva now makes it possible for everyone of us to become “mini-development banks”, finding and funding deserving business ideas in all poor countries of the world. And later getting our money back.

This is such a compelling idea, it’s a must-do. So, go to www.kiva.com and check it out. You’ll be amazed.

Unfortunately, South Africa hasn’t yet lifted its lame arse off the ground (as one of just a few countries in the world not participating with Kiva). So, you won’t be able to fund a deserving South African down-an-outer (yet). Until South Africa gets its arse into gear, you can do Zim, or Tanzania. Or any of a number of African countries.

So, check it out!






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