KIVA is a fantastic tool to teach your family about money, micro-financing and how small acts can change a life.
Started in 2005, Kiva combines the ease of the internet with the idea of micro-finance and has already raised over 138 million dollars. This money has been loaned out in small amounts to people in third world countries (mostly women) who want to start a business and provide for their families.
You can log onto the website and see the stories of the people who are requesting a loan, how much they are trying to raise, and what the money will be used for. The average loan granted is about $400 and you can loan as little as $25. You might be touched by the story of Zarina, a mother of two from Spitamen, Tajikistan who wants to buy cooking equipment so she can make cakes to sell, or Atakuma Dzotsi, a 31-year-old man who lives in Lomé, the capital of Togo. He is a photographer who wants to buy a new camera so he can build his business.
Micro-financing was started by Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank. He has written two books on the subject that many teens who are interested in social business and EVERY business student should read. They are:
Banker To The Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty
and Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism
For an easy explanation on how a Kiva loan works check out: http://www.kiva.org/about/how
There are some great resources for learning about micro-financing for children including One Hen – How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway and the companion website http://www.onehen.org./, and Rickshaw Girlby MitaliPerkins.
Using the Kiva website allows you to learn many different life lessons as a family including:
- A great way to learn about everyday life for real people across the world
- Practice using the computer, navigating the Kiva website and using the Internet as a research tool.
- Introduce basic business and economic skills
- Get kids involved in the world of Micro-financing and empower them to make a difference
- Introduce the idea of social entrepreneurship
Money loaned through Kiva is paid back, but you don’t make interest on it. You can either withdraw your money or re-invest it and help another person with a new Kiva loan.
There are plenty of ways you can raise money as a family for a loan. You could start a spare change jar, or help your children host a garage/lemonade or bake sale. Have signs out and tell your customers you are raising money for Kiva loans. Be prepared to tell them all about it. This is a great way for your kids to reinforce all they have learned and get excited by sharing with others. Once you have raised some money, do some research as a family and decide which Kiva entrepreneurs you would like to support.
Micro-financing as a family is a great way to make a change in the world. Why not experience Kiva with your family?