guest post by Molleen Zwiker
When most people hear the word "invest", they probably think of heaps of money or of incomprehensible terms and impossibly complicated tax laws, of financial advisers and grim-faced accountants.
"We are a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world."
There it was: an investment in other people. Interest earned on promoting self-reliance. Becoming successful by investing in the success of others.
And the beauty of it all is that my measly $25 that will buy me about half a tank of gas, is a significant hand up to someone who is building their own small business.
Kiva.org's website is beautifully organized and easy to use. One of the features I like best is being able to sort borrowers by whatever criteria I choose. For example: because I am a woman, I tend to invest in the work of women; because I am a foodie, I tend to invest in food-related endeavors like agriculture, groceries, restaurants; because I was born in Panama, I tend to invest in Central American borrowers; because my beloved sister-in-law is from the Philippines, I also favor borrowers from there.
In increments of $25, I am also promoting capitalism and pride in accomplishment.
It fascinates me how quickly these loans get re-paid, too. And when they are, Kiva promptly notifies me. Then I have a choice to let it ride (but why?), withdraw my investment with its interest, or re-invest. I re-invest ASAP. So far, I have invested in people buying seed, livestock, resale stock for their shops, delivery vehicle repairs, and a new roof or two to say nothing of a sewing machine for a woman who was making clothing to sell.
Kiva.org has tabs in which I can check the repayment schedules, my net earnings, and so forth. And they offer specials, too. This past Christmas they offered a three-for deal: buy two gift cards, get one loan free. I took advantage of that, giving people I cared about an opportunity to experience what I started calling a "sacred rush", the joy of helping others even as I help myself.
Please consider taking a few minutes to check out Kiva.org. I sincerely pray you get hooked, too. I can't think of a better blessing than to be a blessing to someone else.
Molleen Zwiker is the author of five books, including her most recent: UNRELIABLE: A Novel of Suspense. She is is retired (but not from writing) and in the process of relocating from Michigan to Florida to be nearer her family.