Two weeks ago I celebrated my 21st birthday and as a present, I asked my closest friends to invest in an entrepreneur in any developing country using Kiva, my new found love. I discovered the awesome of this organization a couple of months ago when I made my first loan to Tarcila, a woman in the Philippines who makes and then sells furniture (blog post here). Ever since then, I've wanted to get more friends involved in it. And my birthday presented itself as just the perfect introduction I'd been looking for.
Thanks to the amazing generosity of my best friends of nearly 13 years (!!!), five entrepreneurs from all over the world have been given the chance to develop their business and potentially lift themselves and their families out of poverty. From the Philippines to El Salvador and from Cambodia to Peru, our entrepreneurs are involved in all sorts of different trades and industries, including baking, transportation, fishing, and retail! It's pretty awesome stuff.
But in addition to warm, fuzzy feeling of doing good, what I loved most about this year's present was that I learned something new about my friends along the way. After making their loans, I asked them to share their reasons for choosing whoever it was they ended up choosing...
Marisa chose Shiyoen Chum's family of fishermen from Cambodia because she wanted to invest in something that reflected health and nurturing. Val chose Aida who runs a motorcycle service in the Philippines because it struck her as a unique and innovative service. Carm invested in José, the baker from El Salvador, because she too is an aspiring baker. Cynthia chose on the basis of necessity, which Lucia's fruit and vegetable store provided for the members of her community. And finally, Gloria invested in Alejandra, who operates a buy-and-sell business, because she knew that Alejandra had to support three young children and would need the money to put them through school.
Honestly? Listening to these reasons was one of the most rewarding parts of this little initiative. Why? Because it gave me a deeper glimpse into who these ladies are and for me, it was an affirmation of how well these ladies know themselves, as their choices brought to the fore aspects integral to their personality.
So thus made my 2010 birthday! Who knew that this simple act of investing would reap so many wonderful rewards?
Oh and did I mention that October is also Kiva's birthday month? A happy coincidence with wins all around : )
Thanks ladies for actually taking the time to actually educate yourselves about the organization, the process, and the individuals that you invested in! So happy to be on this microfinancing journey with you!