I joined kiva.org and gave my first loan 11 months ago. 1 Month later (almost a year ago) I wrote a blog post titled “Kiva: The Cheapest way to help poor people“. It described how Kiva is a great way to get your feet wet with giving, due to the fact that you loan money as opposed to giving it. It also goes into some depth as to the academic arguments surrounding micro-lending.
So after 11 months how do I feel?
In 11 months I have made 65 loans, to the total value of $1,885. In order to lend that much, I have only put around $650 into the system. This means that over 11 months, every dollar that I have lent has been returned and loaned again, twice.
Every single loan has been paid back in full.
About 4 months ago, I stopped having to put money into the system in order to maintain a pace of 5 loans per month. By the time I am ready to lean my $125 a month, that amount has been paid back in full by other loans. Of course I will have to top up every now and then as I give a small percent of my loans to help keep Kiva going, but in general, the service has become truly free for me, I can lend money to new people every month without having to touch my bank account.
Micro-lending will not end poverty, but it is a start and hopefully it’s use along with other techniques (my favorite of course being education) will help to reverse the direction of the ever-widening rich-poor gap .