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Posts Tagged ‘Kiva’

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!

Thanksgiving wishes and gift ideas for travelers

No matter where you are today, I hope you have the opportunity to gather with family and friends and enjoy the warmth and fellowship of good company, a special meal, and a moment of gratitude for the abundance that fills our lives.

And for those of you who plan to take advantage of the doorbuster deals on Black Friday or shop the Web on Cyber Monday, I’ve rounded up some of our best gifts ideas for travelers to help you with your shopping.

Scroll through the links below to read about our favorite travel accessories and gadgets that I think would make wonderful gifts this holiday.

  • Kiva makes Oprah’s Ultimate Favorite Things 2010. I love Kiva and just found out that Oprah does too. Oprah included a Kiva gift card on her Ultimate Favorite Things 2010. Kiva is the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs around the globe.

  • Three new travel gadgets to get you going to your destination. Getting through airport security is still a necessary hassle. That’s not to say it can’t be less of a hassle. I looked at how the the scanner bag, portable scales, and Space Bags TO GO help speed you through airport check-in and security.

  • SCOTTEVEST Travel Clothing takes the weight off your shoulders. SCOTTEVEST Travel Clothing is stylish clothing that actually saves you from having to carry around purses and bags, since every garment has tons of pockets where you can securely stow gear and gadgets. We talk to Scott Jordan, CEO and founder, about what he thinks will be the hottest selling SCOTTEVEST items this holiday.

I hope you find these links helpful and that they make shopping for your traveler this holiday a little easier. And if you have any great gift suggestions let us know about them in a comment on this post. Have a lovely Thanksgiving!

Kiva makes Oprah’s Ultimate Favorite Things 2010

I love Kiva and just found out that Oprah does too. Oprah included a Kiva gift card on her Ultimate Favorite Things show on Friday.

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.

How Kiva works

Since we launched our Friendly Planet Kiva lending team one week ago, we’ve seen a flurry of acvitity on the page, and thousands of dollars worth of micro-loans pouring in from across the country. As of right now, we’ve had over 100 friends of Friendly Planet join and donate at least $25, bringing our grand total of money lent to $5,000! And for that, we are so thankful!

As I’ve said before, we are fortunate to live in places where having the means to travel makes it possible for us to freely explore the world and enjoy its wonders. At Friendly Planet Travel, we try to make sure that our travelers not only see the beautiful scenery, architectural achievements, important relics, and monuments of different countries, but they also have the chance to meet the people and experience their culture. Only then can travelers truly understand that people are people, no matter where they are or what they do. If everyone realized this, we’d have world peace.

Friendly Planet is very actively involved in finding ways to give back to the people and places we visit. We raise funds for new wells to provide clean drinking water to rural communities in Cambodia. We support grassroots efforts to get homeless kids off the streets and into educational and vocational programs in Vietnam. For us, Kiva is one more way of trying to give people the opportunities they need to succeed, and make our world a truly friendly planet.

Today, I wanted to take a step back, and give a little tutorial on how Kiva works, and why this is such an important opportunity that we have the power to give to someone in need.

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Lenders browse profiles of entrepreneurs in need from different countries throughout the world, and choose someone to lend to. When they lend, using PayPal or credit card, Kiva collects the funds and then passes them along to one of their microfinance partners worldwide.

Kiva’s micro-finance partners distribute the loan funds to the selected entrepreneur. Often, partners also provide training and other assistance to maximize the entrepreneur’s chances of success.

Over time, the entrepreneurs repay their loans. Repayment and other updates are posted on Kiva and e-mailed to lenders who wish to receive them.

When lenders get their money back, they can re-lend to someone else in need, donate their funds to Kiva (to cover operational expenses), or withdraw their funds.

 

 

Fight world poverty with Friendly Planet Travel and Kiva

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.

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