It was just yesterday, when I informed Cuppa that I had loaned money to a woman in Ghana that she groaned, thinking that senility had prematurely set into my brain. However, when I explained how the micro loans worked at KIVA, she agreed that I remained in my right mind and actually commented that I was doing a good thing.
Many years ago, I used to show a video to my World Issues students featuring several people who were quite skeptical about the worth of foreign aid. They were taken to the Indian subcontinent to view various aid projects. Although they weren't totally thrilled with all they they saw, by and large, they became convinced of the value of assisting others. One of the most convincing cases was the change in lives that they saw from lending women (mostly) small amounts of money — micro loans — that changed their lives. In additions to significantly improving lives, these tiny loans were almost invariably paid back.
So ... when Ginnie posted yesterday about her experiences of helping various people through KIVA, I was moved to lend a very modest amount to Yaa of Ghana, mother of seven who sells baked goods and meat pies in her local market. She requested a loan to help her increase her inventory and improve her business.
How it works is that many of us will each loan Yaa a small amount of money until she has the amount that she needs to meet her requirements. She is due begin paying the money back early next year. At that point, I can recoup my investment or lend it to someone else.
I looked for someone at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale, and Yaa seemed to fit. I also preferred to assist a woman because I think that a woman's lot is harder than a man's in the developing world ... and perhaps everywhere. Also, by helping a woman, I feel that I increase my chances of helping a whole family, in this case seven children, and that seems desirable to me.
Repayment of loans is very high, over 95%, but even if the borrower defaults, it is likely that no one lender will lose very much of his or her investment.
What a neat concept to help others to help themselves with very little outlay required on our parts. Most of us can't do a whole lot to make the world a better place, but I figure that every little bit helps. And, what the heck, call me selfish, but I rather enjoy the warm feeling that comes with such a small gesture.