I have been a lender on the micro lending platform Kiva.org for several years now. Kiva lets you participate in funding for small entrepreneurs in the developing world by giving you access to microfinance institutions in those countries. You can put in as little as $25 to any given loan, and then are repaid monthly. You do not charge any interest, but the likelihood of repayment is above 98%…and it kinda gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling.
Initially, I was an enthusiastic supporter of Kiva, and helped promoting them in Europe through interviews. By now, my enthusiasm has gone down a bit, notably through some not very well communicated changes by Kiva, and more general concerns about whether microlending is actually a way out of poverty. However, I still believe it is one way to contribute to individuals in developing countries, just not the only way.
Why am I posting this here? Meet Kamol. I participated in a loan to this grape grower in Tajikistan two weeks ago. In my head, he will maybe make wine out of these grapes one day. Today, I got a notice that he is still very low on funding and that his listing will expire soon (tomorrow). Now, Kiva is offering a pretty nice deal if you have not yet joined: If you go through this link, http://www.kiva.org/invitedby/oli, and sign up for an account, you can make your first loan without even putting money in. Someone is providing the first round of $25 for you. The repayments go to the person providing that money, but you can experience what it is like to participate. I think that is a pretty neat way of trying it out. In addition, if you follow that link, I will also be able to lend $25 with the repayments going back to Kiva. So, why not giving it a try without any risk and helping out a grape grower in Tajikistan?
If you already are on Kiva, I would love to see fellow winelovers on that loan…:)