This organization was on Oprah many months ago, and Dida passed me the link. It was only today (I am home with the flu; blech) that I took a moment to really look into the site.
Briefly, here's how it works. You lend money to pre-screened entrepreneurs in third-world countries, to enable them to make changes to their environment or improve/grow their small businesses. Entrepreneurs are featured on Kiva's website, and you are able to browse through profiles to see if there is a person or a business that calls out to you (clearly, I'm using my own phrasing here). You may loan as little as $25.00 US. The individual has a set amount they are trying to raise. When the sum has been raised the loan goes into payment mode, and eventually your original amount is put back into your account for you to use again. There is a rating system to give you an idea on how likely you are to be repaid. It was startling to see that virtually all repayments were 100%.
My goal is to invest $500.00 over the next year. This morning I started out by loaning to 4 people. It was an amazing experience. I went through most of the pages and chose 4 women; I was really searching for a spinner, but I could not locate one. I did find one lady who was a weaver and another who does amazing crochet. When I made the investment, their profiles were raised into a featured area, and immediately other people donated as well. As I write, one of the four people I loaned to have reached their goal - two others are within one donation of doing the same. This completely blows my mind, because I saw with my own eyes how my little tiny investment changed their lives.
This is Amira:
She was trying to raise money to buy crochet thread and some chickens to fatten. Her family's monthly income is $410.00. Just look at her work! As of a few minutes ago her request was completely filled and she's going to be able to buy that thread and those chickens.
I think that if you have a moment, that you ought to have a look at Kiva.org and see if there's a way for you to change the world.
It blows me away. I'm wondering what Amira would say if she knew she was on a Canadian fiber blog. Too weird, huh?