Thursday, October 27, 2011

Spotlight on Social Responsibility: Kiva, Changing Lives $25 at a time

In honor of October being the 6th anniversary of the founding of the 501(c)(3) not-for-profit Kiva, I thought it would be fitting that I tell about my story and how I became involved with Kiva.

I come across many things each day that I would like to know more about. One of those recent items, crossed my path during the kickoff meetings to the Corporate Responsibility Fellows program in New York. Included in our packets was a large amount of our travel information, health advisories detailing the vaccinations we would need, economic climates in Latin America, and other pertinent information for our two month sabbatical. One thing that was included, was a 5 x 7 card that included a $25 voucher for a micro-loan to an organization called Kiva.

Kiva is an organization that, similar to Endeavor Global, aims to create jobs, end poverty, and create sustainable companies in emerging markets. The difference between the two can be found in the focus of the two organizations. Endeavor tends to focus more on businesses that are moving toward the strategic growth markets and in need of technical expertise and assistance, whereas KIVA focuses on, alleviating poverty through entrepreneurship. Both organizations are great examples of ways that those fortune enough to "have" can help the "have nots". In September of 2008, Ernst & Young announced a donation of up to a million dollars in "in-kind" resources (our people's professional services) to Kiva. In addition, Ernst & Young is working to engage its people by distributing Kiva gift certificates and using local events to increase personal lending to the Ernst & Young lending circle on the Kiva site.

I was the recipient of one of those gift certificates and was immediately intrigued by the concept presented to me by this small piece of paper. With my upcoming work schedule, I put the card aside until after my tax deadlines and returned to it before I flew to Sao Paulo on September 30th. I opened my Internet browser, created a micro-loan, and sat back and waited for the magic to happen.I donated the $25 voucher to a farmer from Ecuador who was trying to provide for his family. He applied for $1,200 in funding which 36 individuals (that's right an average loan of $33), helped him meet his goal. When I donated, I was the third lendor for a total of $100, therefore I thought it might take a long time for him to meet his goals. Thankfully I was wrong, because on October 5th I received the notification that his loan was fully funded.

The uniqueness of KIVA, is that it is not a telethon or a fundraising drive, but rather it is a micro-loan broker. The money you set forth is actually repaid to you over the course of the term of the loan. You can then loan the money to someone else trying to make their world a better place. I would encourage everyone to take a look at the website, , do some research and put up at least $25 of your own money. For just $25 you can make a difference for someone you don't know and will most likely never meet, but the key is you would still make a difference.

My first $25 was given to me via gift card, but my next $25 will come out of my paycheck.

"To whom much has been given, much will be expected" Luke 12:48
"With great power comes great responsibility" - Unlce Ben from Spiderman 

See the video below for a trailer on KIVA.

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