Last week, I wrote about ways we can battle food inflation at home. Today, I helped a 43-year-old entrepreneur in El Savador with a $25 loan to help her cope with rising food prices in her region of the world.
Doris Elizabeth Nerio Rodríguez has been making tortillas in San Salvador for 15 years. My $25 will help her stay ahead of the inflation curve and grow her businesses. With the help of my money (and the money from others), she can purchase more of the maize and lime she needs to make her tortillas, and more ingredients means more tortillas and more income. I have never met Doris – I found her when I signed on to Kiva.org this morning. If you haven’t heard of Kiva yet, it’s an organization dedicated to providing safe, affordable access to capital to those in need so they can create better lives for themselves and their families. Doris supports her parents and four kids with money earned in her small business.
The Kiva model is simple – sign up on their site, choose a borrower, make your loan (as little as $25) and get paid back – you just need a credit card or PayPal account. What’s great is that over 80 percent of the loans go to women. When the loan is paid back you can either cash out or keep loaning to others – there are many many borrowers on the site for whom even a small amount of money can make a major impact on their lives or communities.
Organizations like Kiva help people struggling with poverty and with no access to traditional banking services – it’s part of a quickly growing area called microfinance. By providing people with access to capital – even the smallest amounts – microfinance makes a huge difference to improve lives in developing countries. And that helps all of us.
A friend of mine has helped his kids loan money through Kiva too – a great idea because it teaches them about how money works and how it can make such an impact on people in developing countries. This is something I will definitely be getting my whole family involved in (and we’ll be making more loans soon).