I’ve been participating in Kiva for a few years now. Kiva.Org is the world’s first and largest microlending website where anyone, anywhere can help alleviate global poverty through loans as small as $25.  To date, I’ve funded 19 separate loans to small business people around the world.  11 of the nineteen loans have been paid back in full, and the others are still in repayment.  We haven’t had any defaults to date.

We’ve re-loaned the money that’s been repaid to other entrepreneurs, and added money to our loan portfolio each year, often at Christmas, to try to help other entrepreneurs looking to make their own lives better with a little help from the outside.  I often talk my children and we choose projects to support based on the stories and our own interests, often supporting businesses based on our family hobbies, or in our ability to complete the funding of a loan for someone just needing a little bit to get it over the top, like funding Kickstarter.com  projects for geeky entrepreneurs.

(I should also mention that there are some Kiva.org loans available in the US, as well, although the majority are overseas.)

In addition to the money that goes directly to the borrower, Kiva asks for a small donation to help cover administrative costs. This amount is pretty small, and represents a tiny amount compared to the amount loaned. (It’s also completely optional.)

I’m talking about this for the first time, because I recently got an email from Kiva talking about a new project they’re launching, coinciding with International Women’s Day.   In partnership with Kiva, Dermalogica’s joinFITE program is funding a $100,000 Kiva Women free trial program.  This is a great opportunity for you to get started with Kiva yourself, and make a difference in the lives of people elsewhere in the world – for FREE.  Dermalogica is funding $100,000 in free trial loans, which means you can make a loan to a female borrower of your choice without fronting a single penny (for as long as the Dermalogica money lasts). All you have to do is go to Kiva Women and choose an entrepreneur of your choice to support.  You can make a loan for free, and you can make additional loans with your own funds, if you choose.  You can make a difference in the lives of people elsewhere in the world, by simply choosing an entrepreneur to support.

While Kiva is a true loan program, and you can cash out paid-back loans at any time, we really enjoy seeing our money multiply opportunities over time across the world.  I like hearing how these ambitious women are making a difference for themselves and their families.  Unlike other charitable donations, Kiva loans feel like the donations we make to Heifer International-where you can donate animals, flocks of chicken, sheep etc. to help a family not only feed itself, but become a sustainable change in their lives.  These sorts of donations and loans make more of an investment in a family and a community than making a one time payment that when it’s gone, it’s gone.  Instead, the capital provided by Kiva and Heifer help create sustainable change, one little bit at a time.  That’s the hand up people need, not a hand out.

If you have a moment, stop by and check out Kiva.org/women.  Choose an entrepreneur to support.  Watch the change multiply over time.  Every time someone makes a payment and repays a loan, I’m excited for them and all they have achieved, and I feel proud that I could, in a small way, help contribute to that success.  That’s what I love about Kiva, and I hope whether you support the women’s project or Kiva in general, you’ll get the same sense of satisfaction that we do.  Try it while it’s free and decide if it’s worth your own financial support- I’m betting you’ll love seeing the real, tangible difference you can make in the world, where so many problems seem too big to tackle.  Here, you can tackle some of them where it matters most- person to person.

More About Kiva

Kiva is the world’s first and largest microlending website where anyone, anywhere can help alleviate global poverty and empower women through loans as small as $25. Since Kiva’s launch in 2005, more than 80% of the loans funded through Kiva have been to women borrowers in 60 countries and the United States. Kiva has connected more than 600,000 women borrowers to nearly 650,000 lenders, crowdfunding more than $200 million in loans to women. Loans through Kiva have a 98.9% payback rate and have proven to be a significant resource for women worldwide.