Here in Canada we are so fortunate to have access to just about every luxury. Even the poorest among us have clean water, enough food, utilities and even a selection of entertainment options. Through the “Passport” event that we hosted here in April and November of last year, I and many of our shelter residents have learned that we in Canada are all truly RICH by global standards (see www.globalrichlist.com), so we decided to do something about it.
On May 25, 2011 Southridge Shelter made our first ever Kiva loan to a rice farmer in the Philippines named Cesario Belover. On December 25, 2011, while celebrating Christmas Day, we also found ourselves celebrating the 7 month anniversary of our first loan and also the surpassing of $1000 in total Kiva lending! Not only did we reach this benchmark in the week leading up to Christmas, but over the holidays picked up momentum and on January 1, 2012 we rung in the New Year by making our 40th loan together! We have now lent a grand total of $1100 to business owners across 23 of our world’s poorest nations.
If you haven’t heard of it before, Kiva is a website that allows people to make $25 contributions to larger loans that help entrepreneurs in the developing world who would never have the opportunity to receive a loan from a traditional bank. The loans are repaid over time (with a 98.91% success rate) and the lender is then able to either reclaim their money, donate it to Kiva, or re-lend it. Here in the shelter we use a “Kiva Jar” to collect spare change from whoever wants to help and together we make a new loan each time we reach $25.
One of the people we have been able to loan to is Efua Mansah from Ghana who recently finished paying her loan back in full. Here is an update that we received from Kiva in November: “Efua is a single mother of five children. She is the sole bread winner of her family. She sells pineapple, water melon and other fruits in her village. She is on her second cycle loan. Before she took out her first loan her working capital was very small, plus she was finding it very difficult taking care of her children. She used the loan amount to buy more fruits for sale. After paying back her first loan she took out another loan because it really helped her business. Efua admits the loan amount has not only helped her business grow but also has helped support her family.”
Efua’s story is just one of the 40 that we have been a part of so far and you can follow our portfolio of entrepreneurs online at http://www.kiva.org/lender/southridge3154 or, better yet, start your own Kiva account to make loans of your own! It is a great way for us, who are rich by global standards even if staying in a shelter temporarily, to lend a helping hand to those in the developing world who have far less than we do. In Luke 12 Jesus instructs us to “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Kiva is just one way for the financially rich to make an investment of the heart and store up heavenly treasure.