After ranting about the RED project the other week, it's great to be able to point to a project that's doing something really positive for the Third World without giving kickbacks to shareholders or boosting rock star egos in the process. Kiva is a social networking site that brings people together to fund entrepreneurs in the Third World. Each member can contribute as little as $25 and once the total loan amount is raised Kiva pools the contributions and sends the total to the entrepreneur.
Journal entries at Kiva keep lenders up to date with the entrepreneur's progress and the loan is paid back over 6-18 months. At that point lenders can withdraw their money or re-loan it to someone else.
In a little over a year, Kiva's 35,000 members have lent $2.6m and, to date, the repayment rate is 100 per cent. Kiva is also the first website to have PayPal fees waived.
I think this is a great idea. Tonight, along with three others, I helped Ejidia Nyambura Muragu, from Muranga in Kenya, buy some chickens and got together with 12 others to help Monica Theobald, of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, raise working capital for her grocery store. Monica's lenders come from across the United States and from Australia, Belgium, Denmark and, of course, London.
Right, I'm off to get some pink sunglasses and await my turn to edit The Independent.