As travelers, we encounter wonderful sights and sounds, culture, beauty, history, and fascinating people. We also discover other things that are less wonderful, like how difficult it is to make a living and support a family in many countries. Too many hard-working people simply don’t have the resources or opportunities to prosper.
But there is something that we can do to change that—not by charity, but by lending. Just as businesses here in the U.S. usually need financing to get off the ground, entrepreneurs in developing countries often need loans to build successful businesses. Sometimes, a “micro-loan” of as little as $25 can help a seamstress in Uganda or a mechanic in Guatemala purchase the equipment or goods they need to expand their business and make it profitable and self-sustaining.
Kiva is the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending Web site, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs around the globe. The people you see on Kiva’s site are real individuals in need of funding. You pick who you want to loan to and how much, and Kiva sends you updates as the loan is repaid. More than 98% of the loans are repaid, and when you get your loan money back, you can re-lend to someone else in need.
Zach Grossman from our reservations department has created our own Friendly Planet Travel Kiva micro-lending team. We’re asking all of our friends and travelers to join us in giving back to those amazing destinations we visit by joining us in lending through the Kiva program. You’ll be helping real people make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their families, and their communities.
Late last week, we sent out all of our Kiva lending information in a newsletter to our members, and were met with resounding success. We offered to add $25 to the accounts of the first 40 members to join the Friendly Planet Kiva lending team, and lend $25 or more of their own. And in only a few days, more than 90 people have already joined and donated to their group or individual entrepreneur of choice, boosting our team’s total loans by $1,000. As I’m writing this post, all of the loans contributed to the Friendly Planet Travel Kiva total $3,325, and you can watch the numbers increase on our lending page.
But don’t let it stop there! Get involved and enjoy the tremendous satisfaction of being a part of a wide network of like-minded travelers who are working together to make this a truly friendly planet! And, of course, thank you for all you do.