- 4 Jan 07, 10:36 PM
I was reading earlier today that philanthropy was this decade’s big thing. Unlike the 80’s that belonged to the yuppies, who we imagined sitting around counting piles of money and using £50 notes to light Cuban cigars, today society’s multi-millionaires are giving something back to the world with their massed fortunes. Look at the charitable works of the likes of Bill Gates and Richard Branson.
Well, if you are feeling philanthropic, kiva.org is a website that allows you to invest in entrepreneurs in the developing world.
For example, Veronique Ahiator in Togo is looking for $950 to purchase a sewing machine, traditional cloths and other boutique materials to expand her dressmaking business. At the time of writing, she’s raised $200 from Kiva already. As this is a loan rather than a donation, repayment is expected in 12-15 months. You aren’t expected to provide the whole loan – you can pay from $25 upwards.
As far as repayments go, Kiva claims an astonishing 100% success rate, but warns that any business can fail, and so they suggest that investors should spread their money around rather than back one entrepreneur with a large loan.
It is essentially a web 1.0 website, with some web 2.0 flourishes, including each entrepreneur having a Journal (or blog) to report on progress with their business and loan repayment, RSS feeds and the like. You even have a port folio to track your investments.
If you decide to check it out, be prepared for some hard work. It is not particularly accessible. Even basic things like alt text for images are missing, and font sizes can’t be increased. But it is largely text-based, so if you can persist with the website despite the inherent difficulties involved, it is worth checking out. The process of making a loan via credit card is also compromised by the use of a CAPTCHA, an image of text, to verify the loan is genuine. Kiva uses PayPal for accepting loans.
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