Tomorrow, almost 4,000 miles away from my home in North Carolina, a group of eighteen teachers from a small Catholic school in Northern Sierra Leone will be able to purchase school supplies for their 549 students. Besides our religious beliefs, there is not much that connects our two worlds separated by the vast ocean. An hour ago I had never even known that such a school existed nor did I think that our paths would cross. However, with the power of the internet to unite us, a new kind of globalization has taken foot in the form of micro lending.
Three years ago my Aunt gave me a gift certificate to Kiva.org for Christmas. Three years later it has been the gift that has kept on giving. My first micro loan was to Otila Sanele of Samoa who used my money to purchase supplies for her agricultural business. By August of last year my $25 loan to her was repaid in full. Since then I have re-invested my credit to Sua Tupuola also of Samoa, Monica of Peru who uses my loan to run her grocery school and Obadiah Kariuki of Kenya for his local market store. Three years later the $50 gift from my Aunt has now helped five separate entrepeneur's from around the world to achieve their dreams.
Micro lending is a non-profit way of banking that invests in the future of those people who otherwise wouldn't have the ability to take out a loan from a bank, either because they have no credit or because there simply are no banks where they live. Kiva is just one of many non-profits that have begun this transnational micro financing. They don't charge interest, they simply allow you to connect to other citizens of the world so that they may realize their dreams.
Down the road I don't know if I'll ever see my investment first hand. Perhaps I'll bump into a successful businesswoman somewhere in the future and find out that she attended a Catholic School in Sierra Leone. Or maybe I'll go to a market in Kenya and eat some of Obadiah's fresh produce. Who knows? The real investment I'm making is in my heart. It sounds selfish (and probably is), but deep down I know I sleep better at night knowing that my money is going towards something positive and instead of letting it collect interest in my savings account, I'm letting it spread to as many people and places that it can. And that is surely in my best "interest."
Check out Kiva Today!
Also, if you get a chance check out my friend's cause "Helping Hands Hawaii." She is going to swim an 8.8 mile channel from Lanai to Maui in order to help purchase school supplies for young students in Hawaii.