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Kiva - Microlending: A Silver Bullet For Poverty?

Updated on July 11, 2011

Is Kiva the Silver Bullet for Poverty?

Now, let’s be clear about something, the main reason most people write these hub pages is that it gets our names out there. If a hub page is well written, if it’s interesting to read, the idea is that the reader will then look up the author, knowing from reading the article that the author knows what they’re talking about, and, hopefully, contact me to hire me and my team to write for them.

So with that in mind, we want to say that the author of this hub page has no affiliation with Kiva. This hub wasn’t written by somebody who works at Kiva, and we weren’t hired by Kiva to write it. I simply believe that Kiva is a wonderful organisation.

It's written because Kiva is something I passionately support and believe in. I give significant amounts of money to charity, in strange ways and for the most part in secret. But the problem with that is that, well, keeping it secret deprives other people of the chance to become aware of just how easy and rewarding it is to really make a difference - one day at a time, one dollar at a time.

And if you've no money to spend, you can support Kiva for free, just make this your startpage: and click it!

So, I hear you asking, what the hell is Kiva?

Kiva just plain deserves some more publicity.

Let’s be honest about another thing: I'm hoping that, after reading this, you will go directly to and give them your support. Give them $25 to be exact. We are really hoping you'll check this out, as shamelessly as possible, simply because Kiva deserves your support.

If you haven’t heard of Kiva, the idea behind the site is so simple and so brilliant, that everybody who didn’t come up with it should feel a bit foolish for not having come up with it. So simple, in fact, that we can sum it up in one dozen words:

Kiva allows people to loan money to small businesses in developing countries.

Kiva allows people to loan money to small businesses in developing countries.

You receive no interest on these loans. With, you’re investing into the world economy rather than into your retirement fund. There is no guarantee of repayment. However, many business have already gone on to be very successful, thanks to several investors putting in such small donations as twenty five to fifty dollars. Each and every one of us has spent at least that much on dinner for one.

If you make a loan, you will receive reports from the business you sponsored. First, this helps you feel good about making a difference, and second, it allows you to cheer your people on from the sidelines.

As the website puts it, the four step process works like this:

  1. You browse the profiles of entrepreneurs, look for somebody who you think has a good idea and the wherewithal to see it through, and you make a loan.
  2. Kiva’s microfinance partners distribute the money to the business you chose to support. These microfinance partners also provide training, helping to teach the entrepreneur how to make the most of your investment.
  3. Usually within six to twelve months, the entrepreneur will repay the loan.
  4. You get your money back. Many lenders choose to keep reinvesting that money in new entrepreneurs, or donate it to to cover the costs of maintaining the site.

The best bit is IT'S REALLY SIMPLE.  A click here and a click there and you'll have loaned away a fair bit without doing any work - so be warned - it's addictive. 


Just one story...

As a sample of the kind of loans Kiva gives out; here's another.  Louise Kanini is a married woman with three children. She and her husband, a pastor, help to take care of orphans and vulnerable children at the church. She chose to start a small business in order to take better care of her community.

She started raising chickens. With just $74 to start out with, she purchased some chicks and built them a small coop.

Currently, she is hoping to upgrade her business with an investment of just eight hundred dollars US. This will buy more feeders, drinkers, food, medicine, and space heaters for her chickens. She hopes to feed them more, knowing that fatter chickens earn more money. She also hopes that, by buying more chickens, she will be able to turn over more profit, faster.

Here’s the interesting thing about this example. Louise was given her loan on December 25th, 2007, and given a period of nine months, starting in March of 2008, to pay it back at a rate of $88.89 a month. After a disease wiped out many of her chickens, she found it hard to pay the entire loan off on time, but has still managed to repay 78% of it at this time. By simply knowing what to do when the outbreak hit, she was able to keep her business thriving. There is no doubt that she will continue to do so, and that the entire loan will be paid off.

You can instantly track what you've achieved

You are not guaranteed repayment, however, they do report something like a 75% success rate in repayment, which is a lot better than you might assume when you first hear of Kiva.

Your money is all well-accounted for and itemised

Kiva is not a handout organization. This is not charity. In charity, you are simply giving somebody money. Kiva, rather, is an attempt to enrich the economy of impoverished countries so that they won’t need charity.

In the US, in the UK, in Japan, all you need is a good idea to start a business. You can take out a loan from a bank and have a small business off the ground in no time.

A brilliant entrepreneur in an impoverished country might have a great idea, but without the opportunity to put that idea into action, the idea is just a pipe dream.


One of the great pieces of Western literature, "Of Mice and Men", by John Steinbeck, focuses heavily on the theme of “pipe dreams”.

The whole story is full of people with big ideas who were just born in the wrong time and place, born the wrong skin color, born with physical or mental impairments, or just born unlucky.

George and Lennie hope to own a rabbit farm together one day so they can put their hobo days behind them and have a place on Earth to call their own, but Lennie is just too big and too clumsy to keep out of trouble. Crooks could have been anything he wanted to be, if only he wasn’t a crippled black man in segregation era America. Curley’s wife could have become a movie star, she wound up marrying a man she doesn’t like and living a lifestyle she hates.

If you’ve never read it, the book is a real downer. All of these dreams come so close you can taste them, and yet, at the end of the story, you realize how foolish it was for the poor, the unfortunate and the overlooked to have ever bothered dreaming in the first place. Steinbeck, ever a champion of the impoverished, cuts right to the bone and delivers the essence of human disappointment.

As George states in one passage, “I think I knowed from the very first we’d never do it. Lennie used to like to hear about it so much, I got to thinking maybe we would.”

We’ve all been there. Whatever hand you’re dealt, nobody gets off scot-free. We all suffer disappointment, heartache and hopelessness, sooner or later. Maybe we eventually get that golden opportunity to do what we always dreamed of, but most of us have fallen flat on our face a time or two before that opportunity came.

For some of us, that opportunity never comes. Of Mice and Men paints a picture of depression era rural America. Even with this recession, today’s young American still has a lot more options than he or she did in the 1930’s. But, there are parts of the world that make depression era rural America look like a bump in the road. There are countries where your career paths are limited to either digging ditches or working in sweatshops. Sorry to get a little melodramatic here, but you should consider yourself lucky to live in a time and place where you can complain about the recession while driving your own air conditioned car and drinking a four dollar coffee.

You can make a real difference to someone in a country far less advantaged than yours with as little as $25. It's money very well spent, and there is nothing quite like the kick you get when it's paid back in full.

Because then you can recycle it.

Lend it straightaway to someone else. And you can keep on doing this for as long as you want. You won't ever run out of people in need. Go take a look. We have a hubpages team too!

AND REMEMBER: And if you've no money to spend, you can support Kiva for free, just make this your startpage: and click it!

by Julie-Ann Amos, professional writer, and owner of international writing agency

Why not create your own HubPages? It's fun and you can make revenue from Adsense and other revenue streams on your pages. JOIN HUBPAGES NOW - SIMPLY CLICK HERE...  (or contact me to write one for you!)

This work is licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this licence, visit or send a letter to CreativeCommons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California94105, USA.


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    • Tricia Ward profile image

      Tricia Ward 

      6 years ago from Scotland

      Great Hub I totally agree. I am on a low income but can give when I can. When the money is paid back I don't take it back, I used it to support someone else. If I have a little extra and I little in my account I top it up and support someone else. If I do it that way, I can give a little more often. Helping people to help themselves and keep their dignity. Voted up

      Oh one of the links seems broken you may want to check it out. The small challenges one

    • prettydarkhorse profile image


      8 years ago from US

      oh this is nice information Julie-Ann, I am new here to HP and I have also read the news about your dad, best wishes. Thanks so much for sharing this one, for helping small enterpreneurs, will read about it in depth and I would like to join also if I can.I am a Filipina who is presently residing here in the US.

    • Julie-Ann Amos profile imageAUTHOR

      Julie-Ann Amos 

      8 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK

      Thanks guys - a little $25 every now and again really helps! I'm hoping bumping the forum thread again 9there was a previous one) may push this

    • funride profile image

      Ricardo Nunes 

      8 years ago from Portugal

      Hey Julie-Ann, good thing you started the forum topic about Kiva. This way i found a way to help someone needed :)

    • Flightkeeper profile image


      8 years ago from The East Coast

      This is a great idea and one I'll definitely explore.

    • Julie-Ann Amos profile imageAUTHOR

      Julie-Ann Amos 

      9 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK

      Thanks cashmere. Everyone opting in to this is making a huge difference I know!

    • cashmere profile image


      9 years ago from India

      This is wonderful. I've often wanted to help people around me in India who are less fortunate than me. I am sure many of them will benefit from this organization. I usually pay for my maid's children's education.

    • Julie-Ann Amos profile imageAUTHOR

      Julie-Ann Amos 

      9 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK

      Well done! Count me in thanks

    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 

      9 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      Well, I made my first loan through Kiva. I've set up a team for HubPages if you are interested

    • cgull8m profile image


      9 years ago from North Carolina

      I love Kiva, I have been donating there for more than a year. My money is in good hands. Glad to help these enterpreneurs and who in turn will help others around them. This is a much better option than giving the money to others blindly.

    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 

      9 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      Great hub. I have heard about Kiva and have thought about getting involved.

    • Mardi profile image

      Mardi Winder-Adams 

      9 years ago from Western Canada and Texas

      They (Kiva) do an excellent job of updating you on how your loan is being put to use. It is one of the more rewarding opportunities for investing out there I think. Thanks for all the information and for getting word out Julie-Ann.

    • TKIMWRSVC profile image


      9 years ago from United States

      excellent hub, thank you

    • Julie-Ann Amos profile imageAUTHOR

      Julie-Ann Amos 

      9 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK

      Thanks, do please spread the word and tweet it or refer it to friends - I'm not after the hub traffic just the publicity for an excellent cause!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Great cause... I will check into it further

      regards Zsuzsy

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great hub - loved it and the personal way it was written made it hit home more than usual


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