Friday, October 12, 2007

Where a Few Dollars Makes a Difference

You've probably heard of micro-lending. Small loans are made to help people start or improve small businesses in poverty stricken parts of the world. A mother may use the money to buy a milk cow, sell the milk to her neighbors and give some to her children. Her children have a better diet and are healthier. She has income and can now afford to pay for their schooling. The money is paid back and later she may get another loan for another cow to increase her income.

I've always thought that if I were rich, I'd set up a foundation to do that. But guess what? There is an organization, Kiva, that will take as little as $25.00 from regular folks like you and me and put it toward loans. You can browse through the applications and pick the ones you like the best. I loaned some money to a Pakistani woman, Naila Sajid, who is using the loan for her beauty parlor business. I also loaned to Rita Ruiz, a seamtress in Mexico.

Kiva has been profiled quite a bit lately in various media, including Oprah, former President Clinton's book Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World, and the Today Show.

I keep thinking that there must be a way for micro lending to work in the United States. I'm talking about amounts under $5,000.00. It would be ideal for those who want to work from their home at occupations like sewing and alterations, day care centers, etc.

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