Since we’re a small business, we feel a certain kinship with other small business owners. When we help out another small business, it makes us feel good and part of the small business movement. So we were intrigued when we learned about Kiva a while back. Kiva is an organization that helps set up microloans for small business owners in developing nations, lifting them out of poverty, helping their economy, and generally making the world a better place.
With a microloan, philanthropically-minded individuals each loan a small amount (in our case, $25) to a small business owner in a developing country through a microfinancing institution. As the business owner pays back the loan, we receive periodic updates, and then once the loan is paid off, we get our $25 back. We can choose to withdraw our money, donate it to Kiva’s operating expenses, or to set up another loan.
We like the fact that this is more than just charitable giving or a handout. It’s investing in another business and aiding in breaking the cycle of poverty. We get to be very selective about which business owners we’d like to support. We can pick certain kinds of businesses, which country they’re in, and even the gender of the business owner.
Since we fresh-squeeze our own “house blend” juices each morning for our guests, one business that caught our eye was Meredith de Jesus’ business, Carlita Juice Shop, which is located in a small outdoor market in Peru. Meredith asked for a $500 loan and we, along with several other individuals, loaned $25 toward making her business better.
We just learned today that Meredith paid off her loan, so now we’re thinking about the next business we want to help through Kiva. We currently have three other loans in the process of being paid off by small business owners, one each in Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Vietnam. We’re looking at countries in Africa as the next destination for our loan.