Most Americans spent at least a little time yesterday looking inward, thinking about what they are most thankful for in their lives. As a nation, we are incredibly blessed, though for those of us who live paycheck to paycheck (or worse), it may be hard to remember that. A very dear friend of mine introduced me to the idea of “paying forward,” and what better time to put that idea into action than Thanksgiving?
My friend is a very giving person, and she gave me a wonderful engagement present: a gift card to Kiva. This organization allows you to help others in need through a process called microfinance, loans that come in smaller amounts for those who are too poor to qualify for large loans. Kiva allows you to give small donations to people requesting microloans for their personal or entrepreneurial needs. And these are not hand-outs that can be taken advantage of like food stamps or welfare checks, these are indeed loans that will be paid back, which I find encouraging both to myself and the recipient. It’s a wonderful way to pay it forward, for you can browse the loans, read their stories, and pick which person or group you want to support. I decided to support two of the things I care most about: organic farming and women in need. Here are the two loans I donated toward:
Chuku K from Liberia
Chuku, 30, is a university student. She is single and lives at West Point. For the past three years, she has been operating a beauty parlor where she sells fashion dresses. She loves to do this business because it keeps her busy and she can interact with people every day.
Because of the quality materials that she sells, she makes a profit. She first started in this business by selling at the table market. A challenge she faces is the competition on the market. With the profit generated from the business, she will buy more goods and pay her educational expenses. She has requested a loan to purchase more fashion dresses for the business. Her dream is to become an international business woman.
Nyamhuu from Mongolia
Mr. Nyamhuu is 36 years old and lives with his wife and 2 children in a house in the Sukhbaatar district of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. His 32-year-old wife, Tsetsegmaa, works with him in their cattle farm. His 2 children, Damdinsharav and Avirmed, ages 6 and 3, stay home with their grandparents during the day. He started his business of cattle farming and producing and selling organic dairy products in 2008. He has been producing and providing organic dairy products to local customers, and he is famous in the area for his organic dairy products. He is preparing for the harsh Mongolian winter by purchasing forage for his cattle to keep the dairy product production going during the winter. He is requesting 6,000,000 MNT to purchase bulk forage to feed his cattle during the harsh cold winter of Mongolia. He is a hardworking and optimistic person.
If either of these stories moved you at all, or if you just need some good karma in your life, try paying forward on Kiva. And remember, it’s a loan, not a hand-out, so once you enter the cycle of giving, you will get back to give again.