Let me start by admitting that this is not my favorite time of year. Winter brings cold, short days to Maine, and add to that the barrage of advertisement driven buying of “stuff” that the holiday period fuels, so I can’t wait to get the holidays behind us and I look forward to when pitchers and catchers report.
Most holidays may have started out as a way to recognize and celebrate friends and family, but somewhere along the way they have been very successfully hijacked by various sectors of the retail industry who would happily have us empty our wallets buying presents that aren’t truly appreciated, and gift cards that go un-used and ultimately expire. A gift card to Best Buy is a lazy way to tell someone that you were thinking about them. It is easy though as we hustle to get our shopping completed for the holidays.
I can remember as a kid getting only one present this time of year – and it always meant as much to me that my parents had cared enough to consider what I might really enjoy, than what the present actually was. More is less sometimes, and as we have been duped into allowing the gift-giving extravaganza to spiral out of control in the name of driving the economy, there are other options to satisfy the need to spend, and in doing so you can make the world a better place.
I discovered Kiva just over a year ago. It is an organization that facilitates micro-lending to working people all over the world who need capital to make improvements in their lives and communities. It is an amazingly simple concept where your loaned money is consolidated with similar lenders to meet the loan needs of Kiva borrowers. Your loans are then repaid over time, providing you with credit and an opportunity to re-loan again and again.
When you browse entrepreneurs’ profiles on Kiva, choose someone to lend to, and then make a loan, you are helping a real person make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their family, and their community. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates and track repayments. Then, when you get your loan money back, you can relend to someone else. – http://www.Kiva.org
I am a Kiva loaner because I enjoy reading the stories of the people who work so hard to make a difference in the lives of their families and their communities. This is not charity… it is a financial agreement between you and them, one that offers a helping hand to those already willing to work hard.