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Regina and Pham October 21, 2007

Posted by Sharath Rao in ideas, life, people.

Some time past week past my 26th birthday, I thought I will do something towards spending some of my money wisely (as I think I usually do) but now on random people out there that I don’t know and might never meet.

So one of the things I did was to become a lender at Kiva. This is what Kiva is about.

Kiva lets you connect with and loan money to unique small businesses in the developing world. By choosing a business on Kiva.org, you can “sponsor a business” and help the world’s working poor make great strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates from the business you’ve sponsored. As loans are repaid, you get your loan money back.

So basically interest free loans to the needy, where the interest-free is from my point of view. The borrowers do pay interest, something which goes towards administrative/logistics/publicity costs. Read more about Kiva here. Watch this little video from Nicholas Kristof of the NYTimes.

The businesses I lent to – Regina from Honduras makes pastries and Pham from Vietnam is a poultry farmer. The factors I considered while lending included :

– Record of the agency that manages the operation and their interest rates (field partner as Kiva calls them – in Vietnam and in Honduras) – Low delinquency, low default, low interest rates.

– Married women

– 2 different kinds of business in different countries

– In Regina’s case, I was the third of the 10 donors who collectively raised her $250.00 in loans whereas in Pham’s case, I was the penultimate donor.

– To start with, I have lent $25 each to Regina and Pham.

If you are a US resident and willing to forego one dinner one time and save that $25, and don’t know what to do with that money, well, now you do !

P.S: And thanks to the coverage they have been having, they are also having problems that organizations of their kind generally don’t, but would not mind having. As they say on their website :

We were just featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, NBC’s Today Show, and in President Clinton’s new book “Giving”! Our new service is experiencing record traffic, and we are working overtime to add new businesses from all over the world everyday. We hope you find an entrepreneur you’d like to support!

P.P.S: From my lenders’ homepage, you can see who I have lent to and who else has lent to the same people. I also did some nonpolemic-preaching-but-not-what-you-expect there about why I loan – catch that if you care.

Previous post on personal philanthropy.



1. Outreach update « Epistles - December 22, 2007

[…] 22, 2007 Posted by Sharath Rao in general, life, people. trackback About a couple of months ago I wrote about my participation in Kiva, a micro-lending website through which I lent two amounts of $25 each to a Pham, a poultry […]

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