Investing is a Risk, But Betting on Humans Ain’t Bad

Over on the Blog Roll I have, you’ll see a link to, which I’ve talked about before:

Kiva is a major non-profit micro-loan coordinator. Non-profit and community investment organizations around the world, including some in the U.S., loan out small amounts to entrepreneurs all over to improve and expand their businesses. These organizations work with Kiva who holds money from individuals and teams in accounts, allowing those accounts to pick which loans by these organizations they’d like to help fund.  You can, through Kiva, essentially loan US$25 out to say a pig farmer in Cambodia, which is pooled with other people’s $25.  Over a set amount of time, the pig farmer will pay back his loan in installments. When you get the $25 back, you can loan it out again — to a beauty salon in the Phillipines or a pet groomer in California or a farmer in Kenya. For about the cost of a pizza and sodas, you can help an endless chain of people.

One of the loans I had made, in Afghanistan, had defaulted. It was my first time this had ever happened (and given the state of Afghanistan, not an enormous surprise.) The guy there I’d loaned to had paid back about half the loan by monthly payments, and then stopped. As the months went past, I figured I was going to have to write it off as a donation. It doesn’t happen often on Kiva that someone defaults but it can happen when people are struggling wherever they are.

But today, I got word from Kiva that payments had come in for my loans and there along with payments from other loaners, were two of the missing ones from the guy in Afghanistan. He’s not caught up yet, but it was enough so that I was able to make a new loan to another entrepreneur. More important than the news that maybe the late loan will eventually get paid back, was just that it was a sign that the guy was okay, still going and maybe business was turning around for him. I had bet on him and it might not work, especially in Afghanistan where we don’t know what’s going to happen. But maybe it made things a little better. Maybe it helps put food on someone’s table. And from there, who knows what can happen. Betting on humans ain’t bad, especially compared to the alternative.

Anyway, it made my day sunnier. If you can spare some cash, it’s a great deal of fun and you get to keep doing it as long as you like. You can even join some crazy teams that count your loans as part of their pool efforts such as Nerdfighters: we aim to decrease world suck, or Dumbledore’s Army or World of Warcraft Players: We like to help people out in the real world too! Because we’re just that silly.




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