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Funding friends across the globe: Friendly Planet Travel supports entrepreneurs through Kiva

I believe that giving back to the places you visit is a significant part of the travel experience. As a life-long traveler and president of Friendly Planet Travel, I have met and talked with people from all over the world who make our tours possible.

This includes tour guides, bus drivers, hotel concierges, and more who serve us and our travelers. Many of them are my friends.

It’s painful to watch how volatile economic and political difficulties have become, not just here at home, but everywhere, and how much of it has negatively impacted my friends around the world. That’s why I’m so happy to be a Kiva partner.

As travelers, we encounter wonderful sights, sounds, culture, beauty, history, and people. We also discover 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. This is especially heart-breaking to me, because in many cases, it takes a very small amount of money to fund a project.

So, motivated by a Friendly Planet team member who had recently joined the micro-lending bandwagon, Friendly Planet Travel started working with Kiva to help make a difference. Since partnering with the organization in April 2009, we have raised $36,975 to help entrepreneurs start their own businesses.

We’ve given out 1,281 loans and have been able to help motivate people including the Sr. De Malta Group of Bolivia, the Cloche Plus Group of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Mrs. Cathy Ndiaye of Senegal.

This is quite an accomplishment, since the bulk of the loans have been donated in sums as low as $25 per loan. Considering that Kiva aggregates the small loans into larger amounts that borrowers can use to fund a business, it means that every one of us who can afford to lend $25 is able to help.

The cherry on top is the money is almost always repaid with interest, and the repaid loan can be used to continue lending. That means the $25 investment can reach many more recipients and help many more entrepreneurs. That, to me, is quite incredible.

We are inspired by the ability to help others through micro-lending, and we want others to join us. We plan to give away some $25 Kiva gift cards to get you started with Kiva micro-lending. If you win, you’ll be able to choose among the many worthy entrepreneurs on the Kiva website. Then, when your loan is repaid, you can donate your $25 loan to another entrepreneur.

If you’re like us, you’ll soon find another $25 of your own to add to your loan fund. But even if you can’t, you’ll still enjoy the thrill of helping someone to rise out of poverty to a better place in the world.

Stay tuned for our announcement on how to enter this giveaway. And if you bookmark our Kiva tag, you can follow all of our updates about our involvement with Kiva.

Oh, and if you absolutely can’t wait and feel ready to make your first loan without our gift card, just hop onto our Kiva group and get started right away. Either way, I promise that once you make your first loan, you’ll be hooked on this good deed, just like all of us at Friendly Planet!

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