If you’ve never watched one of these episodes, it’s an annual segment where Oprah shares what she thinks are the most noteworthy products that would make great gifts this holiday. I was delighted when I saw Kiva had made this year’s list.
Kiva is the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs around the globe. Friendly Planet Travel started a Kiva lending team in August 2009.
Since then, our 186 members have loaned over $25,000. These loans are helping real people make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their families, and their communities.
We started our partnership with Kiva because 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 a lot 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.
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 percent of the loans are repaid, and when you get your loan money back, you can relend to someone else in need.
I think one of the best gifts to give this holiday season is a Kiva gift card. And if you join Friendly Planet Travel’s Kiva lending team, your loans will count towards the team’s total amount loaned. Thanks to Oprah for highlighting this wonderful organization.