A couple of years ago, my birthday loot included a small wad of cash, and for some odd reason, I didn't have much on my buying wish list. Sure, I could've found ways to blow it all at the mall, or put it to use on household expenses, but those options felt wasteful or boring, so I decided to just share a chunk of my blessings.
A friend suggested I check out Kiva. If you haven't heard of them, they're an organization that does amazing work helping people all over the world. They offer micro business loans in places where you can't just go get a credit card and start charging. The loans are all to help entrepreneurs in their small businesses, rather than just for people to consume stuff, and if you decide to support the idea, it's considered a loan, not a charity donation. Lots of people pool together their money to make up the total sum needed, so you lend as little as $25.
Choosing who to loan to seemed like a great family / homeschool project, so I hollered for the kids to come check it out with me. We spent quite some time browsing- there's a huge variety of kinds of businesses, people and countries of origin to consider. You could wander the site for hours..
Since half of my family comes from Colombia, and I majored in Fashion Design in a previous life, we chose two women who had clothing businesses in South America for our fist two loans. They paid us back back in installments, and in a short time, I had enough money back in my Kiva account to reinvest and make another loan.
We're now up to our 10th loan, all from the same original $50. That's right- my $50 extra birthday money has been a part of supporting ten different small businesses from all over the world. Talk about bang for your buck! It's also an awesome way of planting the seeds of sharing in my kids.
Choosing the next borrower is almost always a family affair and done using a completely random system of whatever strikes our interest at the time.
Sometimes, we just love a name, like the Uvumilivu Beauty Shop or The Divine Baby Jesus Crafts Group, and other times, we just love a picture, like the one of Jose and his cool red zipper mobile. Sometimes a type of business or s
ection of the world catches our eye. You can't really go wrong. The loans are rated according to risk, and the repayment rate for me, has been perfect so far.
The process has been a springboard to learning more about different countries, cultures, politics and businesses, and the world. The kids find the places on the globe, Google pictures and read about the places. We might end up trying a new food or watching a foreign film. My adventurous offspring now want to try to visit some of these businesses in our travels, and I too would love if that could happen. In
the mean time, my kids decided to pool some of their extra holiday cash to do a loan of their own.
I'd love to invite anyone with a few bucks to spare to head over to Kiva via the link below, and invest in some seeds of sharing. Come on, it'll make you feel good.......Bring your kids along too- it's a great lesson and a good deal of fun.