Spare change can change the world

Kiva - loans that change livesReading the Sidney Morning Herald's "Ten things that will change your future" reminded me that I hadn't mentioned Kiva lately.

But I'll get to that in a moment. The list is interesting in that the writer says the items might not individually change the world "but which taken together give a picture of where our brave new networked world may be heading." Now, that's interesting.

The newspaper's list of 10:

THE CHUMBY
MICROBLOGGING
EVERYBLOCK
23ANDME
PEER-TO-PEER LENDING
MOB RULES
GUERILLA WI-FI
WORLD COMMUNITY GRID
LOOPT
ONE LAPTOP PER CHILD

Maybe you have, but I hadn't heard of all these and there's some more info and links in the article.

Kiva is mentioned in peer-to-peer lending. Instead of a technology driven network idea, it's a human network encompassing the globe.

I got interested in Kiva after hearing a podcast with Permal Shah, its president.

I made a "donation" of $75 on December 23, 2006. (Yeah, I was intrigued by the idea, but my cynical journalist instincts was also at work.) In all, $18.9 million has been loaned and the default rate is .17 percent, according to Kiva.

My money was loaned to Jovcho Bakalov in Sliven, Bulgaria. He received a total loan of $2,000 through a Kiva lending partner for a special vacuum press used in a manufacturing process. So far, 79 percent of the loan has been repaid.

Course, I'm not the only one who loaned Bakalov. There's Lowell, an auto worker in Georgetown, Ky.; Belle, a real estate developer in Austin, Texas; Lori, a teacher in Madison, Wis.; Paul, an architect in Cambridge, Mass. and others. A network of people in different cities and places who chose to help this one businessman.

When the loan is repaid, I can either pocket my $75 (no interest is paid to "donors") or reinvest it in another microloan.

Kiva is not charity, the loaned money isn't tax deductible, and it's not a financial investment, but a people investment. At the risk of sounding a bit bleeding heart, I think it's kind of a cool way of people helping people.

Check it out. As the Sidney Morning Herald said, it's one of those ideas that could change the world. Maybe you could change the world.