If you’ve ever gone on a missions trip, or even gone on vacation to a poorer country, there’s no doubt you’ve encountered situations that made you ask uncomfortable questions about wealth, poverty, and how you can help. Poverty is not an easy thing to come face-to-face with, and it’s also difficult to understand the best way to be generous.
I’ve wrestled with this for a long time. I’ve experienced the joy of giving, the shame of refusing to give to someone who asked, and the pain of being used by people who saw me only as the means to their next drink. Though we all love to be generous, it’s not always easy to know what to do to help people in need. The only thing we know is that we can’t NOT help.
For the past couple years I’ve been learning about a service “micro-financing”, which provides micro-loans of, say, $500 or $2000 to small business owners in developing nations to help them build their businesses. As opposed to a donation, giving a loan helps grow these entrepreneurs’ ability to provide for themselves, their families and communities. As a loan, it’s paid back over time with low interest so that the money can be re-invested in other businesses.
Kiva is a great example of a micro-loan service. They connect lenders with borrowers around the globe. For as little as $25 you can invest in a small business halfway around the world. The cool thing is that, as a lender, you can connect with the story of these families, invest in them, then re-loan the money once they’ve paid it back.
Just a couple days ago I loaned to Wilber in Bolivia, who borrowed $1500 to build a wall to protect his dairy farm.
Jessica Jackley, co-founder of Kiva, gives a moving talk about her story and the power of lending to changes lives. Watch it below, and consider investing money in a small business to fight poverty!