Sunday, November 27, 2011

KIVA--The Real Gift of Giving

The holidays are upon us. This is the time of year we reach out to others, we want to be a part of another person's joy. But in our haste to help the less fortunate, we often come off as being sanctimonious, offering a heaping spoonful of pity with our gift.

My best friend and I were talking about this very thing over the Thanksgiving holiday. I confided that this year I want to do something different, something that would go far beyond December 25th ... something that would increase the quality of  another person's life.

It was then that she introduced me to the site This is a non-profit organization where everyday people can loan money, as little as twenty-five dollars, to others across the globe. When the loan is repayed, the investor then has the opportunity to help another, pull their money, or donate it to the organization to keep it running. Each person needing a loan has a profile that details their story and why they need extra financial help. 

The simple concept of allowing people to lend money without going through a banking system is nothing short of genius.

Rena and her children decided to invest in a woman in South America. She wanted to start a street vending business selling food to the local college students. She has been cooking for others for over twenty five years but never had the means to branch out and become her own boss.  With the combined efforts of small investors, she was able to borrow $450.00. Her business is thriving, and in a little over six months she has already payed half the money back.

I love that by investing, we are not only giving the gift of opportunity, but we are saying to someone who needs a hand that we believe in their gifts and abilities, We are investing in their dreams. We are investing in them.

And so this year I think I'm going to give KIVA gift cards to my children, and my nieces and nephews as part of their Christmas. I look forward to not only helping those in need, but watching my kiddo's as they experience the world beyond our own selfish borders.

To me, the opportunity to give someone a hand up, not a hand out, is the real gift of giving.