When I started my business 8 years ago, it was tough. There was not much money. I was fortunate to have gotten into an entrepreneurship program, which allowed me to incubate my small business, both with training and some financial support. Those first couple of years were pretty lean, though.
Fast forward to late last year. I had a pretty good year, financially, and at the end of the year, I was doing some investing in RRSPs and the like. But I wanted some of my investment money to go to social enterprises. I wanted my investment money to do some good in the world, even if that meant not getting a very good return on my investment, or not getting my investment back at all.
After a bunch of research, I turned to Kiva. Based on the concept of micro-loans, Kiva loans money to entrepreneurs who normally would not have access to these kinds of loans. Unlike Kickstarter, this is not crowdfunding. These are loans, and are expected to be paid back.
You see, a woman with a sewing machine in Africa, or a couple of goats in South America… she can feed her entire family by sewing or selling milk and cheese.
They focus primarily on third-world countries, but not exclusively.
When I joined last year, I looked to support people who were like me. Women, who were single parents, who owned food businesses. Take for example Maria Alejandrina from Honduras, who sells corn outside her house to support her family. She fundraised $450 from 17 different donors (myself included) to buy fruit such as grapes, apples and pears to sell over the Christmas season. That loan has been completely repaid.
The great thing about Kiva is that, once the money is repaid, you can simply loan it to someone else. Your money can do good.
If you’re self-employed like me, I’d like to encourage you to give back to others who might need your help. Kiva is a great way to this. Check out my Kiva Portfolio here.
How do you give back? Let me know in the comments below.