What is it?
Kiva.org is essentially a community micro-lending network that allows you to lend to low-income entrepreneurs in the developing world.
It allows anyone to lend to others [entrepreneurs] anywhere in the world in order to help them rise out of poverty.
"Kiva.org is a non-profit organization helping to facilitate the microfinance movement." ~Current TV
"Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty." ~Kiva.org
How it works?
There are three simple steps as indicated on the company's website; Choose an Entrepreneur, Lend, Get Repaid.
The minimum you can lend is $25.
[Source: www.kiva.org] (text and image)
1) Lenders like you browse profiles of entrepreneurs in need, and choose someone to lend to.
When they lend, using PayPal or their credit cards, Kiva collects the funds and then passes them along to one of their microfinance partners worldwide.
2) Kiva's microfinance partners distribute the loan funds to the selected entrepreneur.
Often, our partners also provide training and other assistance to maximize the entrepreneur's chances of success.
3) Over time, the entrepreneur repays their loan. Repayment and other updates are posted on Kiva and emailed to lenders who wish to receive them.
4) When lenders get their money back, they can re-lend to someone else in need, donate their funds to Kiva (to cover operational expenses), or withdraw their funds.
What's cool about it?
1. You can lend as little as $25 dollars. If you want to get in the habit of giving/lending [even though this is not a donation], it is still a great way to get in the mindset of helping others. It may be something you could share with your children as well; sharing your personal wealth with others in need around the world. Great habit to develop.
2. Kiva.org shows you the stories of the people you are lending to. Many times when we lend, or give donations, we do not know the reason the person needs it. Kiva.org provides a profile for each entrepreneur or group describing clearly what the loan is for, what type of business the entrepreneur has and what the repayment terms are.
[Image source: my profile on Kiva]
3. Kiva.org is a non-profit organization and any donations (not loans) to Kiva is tax deductible.
Receipts can be exported from the website for your records.
4. You can start your own lending team on Kiva. This really embodies the community-lending mission.
For more on this great web site, go to www.kiva.org.
I have been using this site for a couple months now and I really like it. My goal is to provide a loan to someone in a different region of the world each month. I really like the idea behind this site and it has been very well thought out. It also has a lot of corporate partners supporting it, which I think is great. This is a site I believe will take off even further once more people get exposed to it and know that they can help others in the world start their own business.
What I like about Kiva is that it has made micro-lending effortless. It keeps track of all your transactions and also automatically builds a profile of all the entrepreneurs you have lent to and the status of their repayment. Great interface and excellent product.
I highly recommend it to anyone who would like to lend to others who may have drawn the short straws in life and are living under difficult conditions, but are willing to take the necessary steps to help themselves and their families and community. I look at this more of a donation and not a loan, so I lend what I am able to lend. It is my way of giving back to communities of people who are willing to help themselves.
As always, carefully read through the company's website and get a thorough understanding of what the company does and how it operates. Web Apps 101 is not meant to be a replacement to your own research, but merely provides an environment to open up the usefulness of the web to you. The research is fundamentally objective and with the other sources and community input, will help you make an informed decision about whether a product or service is for you.
Enjoy and happy lending.