This is a GREAT idea...

My friend in Birmingham has two daughters who are living wonderfully exploratory lives. They travel with school (for some reason, insurance issues keep my children from...crossing the street, it would seem) and do adventuresome camps and excursions and such. I try to pay attention.

Which is why this, Kiva, is just about the coolest thing I've ever heard of.

I am REALLY lucky about my kids and gifts...they honestly don't care what they get for Christmas. Or birthdays. They just want to see the lights and parades and have a party and see lots of people. I take no credit for this...I just got fortunate here and you damn well better believe I am thankful. They are a joy to celebrate with...whatever you might be celebrating.

Which brings us to Kiva.

For my friend's oldest daughter's birthday last year, someone gave her a donation to Kiva. Kiva, to quote the site, lets you lend to a specific entrepreneur in the developing world--empowering them to lift themselves out of poverty.

What a great gift!! You make, say, a $25 donation. The donation goes into the pot and your entrepreneur uses the money to establish a business. When the loan is repaid, your $25 goes to another needy and industrious person, and the cycle continues. You track the progress online.

This is SOOO much better than a bubblegum pillow. Or a manicure set. Or a gift card to Target so that we can go buy ANOTHER purse, that will end up in the bedroom floor in four days and in a box in four weeks. Now I'll grant're not going to get too many six-year-olds excited about this. But older kids? What a great learning tool!! What wonderful inspiration and, keeping in mind that I am the Parent Who Believes In Volunteering Out The Ass, what a great way to make a difference!

Do No Harm is a great starting life goal, but there are a lot of ways to embellish along the way.

Ooooh, The Inmates hate it when I get all preachy.


City Girl said…
Get out of my head! Hub and I wanted, this year, for our families to make donations to Oxfam as their gifts to us, but they wouldn't go for it. They'd rather give us pajamas we won't wear....

Thanks for this link. I just recently asked some friends who have lived in Africa if they knew about a reliable microloan org, but they didn't. This is awesome!
Cold Spaghetti said…
Okay, so I'm totally THAT girl.

And I love Kiva, I do. I love that it makes people excited about getting involved in international projects. I love that women feel like we're reaching out to other women. And yes, offering loans to folks who otherwise wouldn't get them is a good thing. So, it's great, and yadda yadda.

BUT. Well.

Do they "lift people out of poverty?" NO. Will you get your return in investment, very likely, yes. Which is why they are so darn popular with Westerners. I've written about this before, back when Yunis won the Nobel. It's not the popular talk on Microloan, but it is the truth -- the truth reflected in from the studies that have been done on the true impacts of these programs. It's just not all bright and shiny. There is no silver bullet of poverty reduction.

This is where I wrote about it a few years back. Please don't hate me for being a downer... but I work in International Health and I see the reality of programs on the ground. And I just hate misinformation... I'd much rather we study things truthfully and speak the honest realities.