Oprah kicks off huge lending spree!

Kiva weaver/entrepreneur Sophea Chum from Cambodia.

It was like the Black Friday of Microfinance. Last week, Oprah set off an online frenzy when she consecrated Kiva, a person-to-person microlending marketplace for the world’s working poor, as one of her 2010 Favorite Things, specifically mentioning that $15 buys a $25 Kiva loan on Groupon.

When Oprah talks, the world jumps!

At the same time, Groupon was having a sale on Nordstrom’s shoes, and the twin imperatives of women wanting to give to others and score some great stilettos collided in the perfect storm of Internet gridlock and crashed Groupon’s servers.

Hard-working hands deserve support

But things are all fixed now – and you can still get the deal because Groupon and sponsors are adding $10 to every $15 Kiva loan, up to $500,000, until November 30! Which is great news for poor, hard-working entrepreneurs who need affordable credit around the world — and a wonderful incentive for you to go on Kiva and make your first loan (or give it as a thoughtful gift). It’s a totally addictive process – like facebook for budding philanthropists. When you go online to choose your borrower, you’ll get totally caught up in the photos and stories of poor working people all over the world, and you’ll get to peek at the other lenders, too. Plus, the minute you make your loan, your face will be up there — which is a micro-rush of lending satisfaction.

Getting down to the bun business in the Philippines.

Since 2005, Kiva (which means “unity” in Swahili) has been enabling anybody with a computer to be a microfinancier, in a brilliantly personal and interactive way. By offering interest-free loans to handpicked microfinance institutions (Field Partners) in 54 countries who screen local applicants and send their profiles to be placed online, Kiva has enabled over 500,000 individual lenders in 208 countries to make over $173 million in loans to 452,000 entrepreneurs in the developing world.

Magda Alicia with her textiles in San Pedro, Guatemala

The average size of a borrower’s loan is about $380, and 98.9% of those loans have been repaid (meaning you get your money back – and can then re-loan it to another person!). The Field Partners earn interest on the loans they provide, which keeps them in business, but generally at a significantly lower cost than the market rate (and Kiva scrupulously grades and monitors its Partner institutions).

A Kiva farmer at work

Just this week, some 30,000 people lent 7,000 people around the world a helping hand—giving them the means to improve their situations and create a better future for themselves and their families (81% of borrowers are women). And now it’s your turn…for a measly $15!

With my $100, I’m investing in Emma Villaflor from the Philippines, mother of 10 who is taking out her 4th loan to invest in her general store; the Wahida Farid Group in Afghanistan to buy a new sewing machine for Farida’s tailoring business; Ramona Zarza in Paraguay to buy thread and fabric for the hammocks that she makes so beautifully; and Copa De Nieve Group in LaPaz, Bolivia, a cooperative of nine women who sew, sell food, and make athletic wear.

I can’t think of a better gift than the Kiva experience to give to children to encourage a habit of giving – and to connect them with people less fortunate around the world. Yay, Kiva! To get the Groupon deal (1 per person) click here!

19 thoughts on “Oprah kicks off huge lending spree!

  1. All i wanna say is what about us in the united states we are more bless then them i can see that its hard on us in the states living day today especialy us single mother that tryin keep up and push through life with a smile on our face but pain in our chest but no i see that we are blessed no argument alot of heart aches alot of stress a lot of let downs a lot of struggles a lot of hardness tough rode rugget ragley ugly pot holes i got to smile when all we have is noodle to eat pb&j smile

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  3. Another great site is Energy In Common (known as the green Kiva). EIC only offers loans for green energy products (like solar). They have these great small loans (nanoloans) where you can lend as little as $5. I highly recommend it! 🙂

    • Hey LT, we also lend through EIC – and have had quite a few repayments already… thanks for sharing …
      -jan-

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  5. This story and your blog and you are awesome!! It is always so wonderfully refreshing, in our world of seemingly constant bad news, to find kindred souls and similar paths to bring peace, hope and love to the world. And to honor ones parents in a way is very close to my heart as well. Enjoy your awesome journey and may you be blessed!!

    • Thanks so much — and love YOUR site, too — Dan is just crazy.. which of course, you’d have to be to teach middle school (like my two fabulous stepkids) — Where would we be without all the incredible middle school teachers??? Great to hear from you!!

    • Well, I’ll have to check out that article, but I’m pretty willing to bet that the people who are getting the loans would beg to differ. It’s very difficult to assess what is actually going to “work” and what metrics to use to judge effectiveness, don’t you think?? Really appreciate the link to the article — and thanks for reading & sharing!

    • Hi Lindsay. If you are interested, Kiva Friends forum ( http://kivafriends.org ) has many discussions on the pros and cons of microfinance and also many responses to media articles on both sides of the debate about whether microfinance really helps. I don’t think any of us believe it’s a ‘silver bullet’ but one on one, from me to another mother who is trying to feed her kids, it feels like I’m making a difference. -jan- 🙂

  6. This is a great article!! I don’t often get to catch the Oprah show, so finding this article was a big “pick-me-up” for today! 🙂

  7. What a great idea. The chasm seems to be widening every day between the people who are really thinking and doing something about the world’s problems and the professional politicians who are focused on attacking each other and getting themselves re-elected. Thank you, Betty, for shining the spotlight on the right group.

  8. Yay Betty, wonderful posting, thanks so very much 🙂
    We *love* Kiva… it’s a great way for the not-millionaires like us to give the struggling poor a helping hand !
    -jan-

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