Anyone who has ever tried to start a business understands the truth of the adage: “it takes money to make money.” Even in the relatively wealthy United States, obtaining loans to fund a small business can be difficult. Imagine trying to start a business in a poor third-world nation where there are no options to obtain such a loan. How do people who are willing to work hard and scrape together a new business get the funds to get started, or to expand the business they have already begun?
The answer, for thousands of small business owners all over the globe, is Kiva.
Kiva envisions “a world where all people - even in the most remote areas of the globe - hold the power to create opportunity for themselves and others.” By connecting investors - people like you and me - with business owners who need capital to thrive, Kiva “helps people in need create better lives for themselves and their families.” Your $25 loan combines with other Kiva lenders to provide the capital, and Kiva vets the borrowers so you can be confident making the loan. (Kiva’s 98.7% repayment rate speaks for itself.)
When I discovered Kiva, and read about the wide variety of entrepreneurs supported through Kiva, I took note of the number of borrowers who were in, or wanted to be in, the shoe business. I reflected back upon the many years Janice and I worked to slowly build the capital to operate Abbadabba’s, and how we were blessed with the opportunities we needed to succeed. I wondered if Kiva could be a way for Abbadabba’s to help other shoe businesses grow and succeed in diverse parts of the world. I discovered… it can.
We started the CoolshoesAtlanta Kiva Lending Team in November, 2011, with the goal of “helping shoe businesses take their next step.” Since then, our team has grown to 16 members (including a lady in Sydney, Australia!) and as a team, we have made over 150 loans! We continue to re-invest as loans are paid back, so the capital we gathered continues to help again, and again. Who are the borrowers we help? Here are ten examples, and they are typical of the diversity of our loan recipients:
If this looks like our borrowers are from all corners of the world… they are! Just take a look at the global impact of our loans, as illustrated in a pie chart of our loans, by country:
As you can see, our CoolshoesAtlanta loans have impacted borrowers in over 50 countries, and we continue to expand. To see the countries we’ve served more clearly, Kiva provides this map of our team’s loan recipients:
The participants in our CoolshoesAtlanta Kiva lending team are proud of what we have been able to do through Kiva to help “sister” shoe businesses all over the world. We plan to keep on re-lending, and expanding, our team’s reach. Our business has been blessed with so much opportunity… and we are delighted to be able to pass some of that on to others.
If you are interested in “microfinance” I urge you to consider investing $25 in Kiva to experience the feeling of helping somebody in this very special way. Please feel free to join our lending team, if you wish, and help us further along with our mission at Kiva. Whoever you loan to, you will find great satisfaction knowing that your loan has made a tangible, lasting impact on the lives of the recipient and that community.