A Hand-Up not a Hand-Out

Loans that change lives

Saturday 1338  –  13.12.14

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Gosh I cannot believe I haven’t posted on this blog for 20 weeks!  so now I have only 1338 Saturday’s left out of my imagined allotted 1500. That’s if I am counting right which is decidedly doubtful as adding up, or in this case taking away, is not my strong point.

What I am going to write about here is one of the things that has been keeping me away from posting. Read on and you’ll find a great idea for a last minute present for Christmas. A gift that just keeps on giving.

( this is quite a long post, I must be trying to make up for all those I missed!  I hope you’ll read to the end or maybe come back a couple of times?  Oh and I am very happy for you to share this post on facebook, your blog or wherever. Thanks)

So…. I am in love again…. No! No! don’t get excited, it’s not another man ! It’s microfinance.

I have fallen in love with the idea of lending money to people in poorer countries to use for all manner of things from latrines or education to growing fruit trees or pigs, from buying solar panels or chickens to  beekeeping or stocking a little shop. 

KivaI wrote about Kiva back in September 2013 when I made my very first loan and you can read that post here 100 Saturdays have gone 1400 to go . I was lukewarm about it at first but a few months ago I became much more involved and rather passionate about the whole idea of microfinance and about Kiva in particular. 

So here’s how it works –

1- You need Paypal set up first because this is how you will transfer money into or out of Kiva . Especially important if you are not in America as Paypal will transfer just the right amount of your currency to make up $25

 2- Choose a borrower – There are thousands of loans available, across 85 countries, and the website is geared up to help you find a borrower, whose story resonates with you, by the use of #tags, sectors, gender and attributes. Kiva is a particularly good way of empowering women.

The fastest way to change society

3- Make a loan – minimum is $25 – you can choose to give a little more as a donation to Kiva to pay staff etc as this is how they get most of their funding. Field Partners (nearly 300 of them) give out the loans  and are mostly microfinance organisations around the world. Many of the Field Partner’s (FP’s ) are not for profit organisations (approx 80%) .

Kiva vets the FP’s and borrowers are carefully vetted by the FP’s, consequently there is a repayment rate of almost 99% which is pretty impressive.

4 – Get repaid. Loans can have repayment times of anything from 6 months to 10 years! The 10 year ones are in Mexico and for planting resin producing trees which will go on producing, and providing income, for decades. These loans are very rare. Most loans are short-term, repaid in monthly installments with some at the end of term e.g after say 14 months

5 – Lend the same $25 again and again and again or withdraw your original money .  🙂

we believe talent So why is microfinance necessary?  Because banks are not geared up to lend money to poor people who do not have assets. ( a whole different discussion!!! )

Here’s what Kiva says :-

“Why we do what we do

We envision a world where all people – even in the most remote areas of the globe – hold the power to create opportunity for themselves and others.

We believe providing safe, affordable access to capital to those in need helps people create better lives for themselves and their families”

Kiva can be fun too. User led teams have developed on the site, formed by lenders with particular interests; 29,905 teams in all. some with just a few members and little activity, some huge!  Members post loans they think other members might want to support and there are message boards with lots of banter, as well as help from those more experienced on Kiva.  I belong to a few of these teams and here are some of my favourites ( apologies to those I have left out ) :-

 Tree Lovers My own newly formed tiny team of 33 members 😉

We loan because…
Planting and sustaining trees can provide a long-lasting source of income, an important food supply, protection for the environment as well as shelter for wildlife and livestock. All this and they add beauty too.
He who plants a tree
Plants a hope.
~Lucy Larcom.

The A+ team which has over 31,000 members and is the Number One team for amount loaned on Kiva – Doing good without God.

“We loan because…
We care about human beings and understand that it takes people to help people.
About us
We are one human family, and we know that people can do good without believing in a god.
The Plus sign in the A+ Team logo reflects the fact that the team comprises Atheists, PLUS Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists, and Non-Religious members. A+ is also a symbol of excellence. “
Give Green- Environmental Loans with almost 1800 members
We loan because…
We want the world to be a better place
About us
Made of individual kiva lenders who are concerned about the environmental impacts of their loans. This is a forum to notify each other of environmentally sustainable loans that are needing funding. Sustainable development projects include recycling, solar, re-use, organic agriculture, health, etc.

Half the skyHalf the Sky: Empowering women with 642 members

We loan because…
we believe empowering women is the key to alleviating social injustice and achieving world stability.
About us
Inspired by the book HALF THE SKY written by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, our team is committed to helping curb culturally accepted abuse of women around the world.

 Friends of Bob Harris –   -with over 1700 members 

We loan because…
After stumbling into a job as a luxury travel writer, I saw so much poverty that I decided to turn those paychecks into Kiva loans. Then I visited a bunch of clients, who were amazing, and I’ve written a book about it called “The International Bank of Bob” (Walker/Bloomsbury, March 5, 2013).
I hope the book will get more people to feel a greater understanding of Kiva, a better appreciation of the role of microfinance, and most of all, more connected to the rest of the world.
About us
People who realize that if we switched places with the recipients, they’d loan to us just as happily. So, fair’s fair.

In the 2 teams above you will note that there are books associated with the teams and both books are excellent reads.

International bank of BobHere’s Bob Harris talking about the experiences that led him to support Kiva and write the book

     Bob Harris on TV

He talks about directly funding each individual but nowadays loans are usually disbursed to the borrower before the loan is funded on Kiva and your money is then used to backfill the loan.  This is what Kiva has to say about this _

“A lot of lenders wonder what’s point if the loan’s already been made. But Kiva lender funds are truly making those loans possible. Because Kiva provides Field Partners with capital at 0% interest, we enable these organizations to expand their lending programs, reach new, even more marginalized borrowers, and increase the number of awesome wraparound services they offer, like health care, child vaccinations, financial literacy classes and more “

So if I have you convinced this is a good idea and I hope I have, here’s an invitation link from me. No I don’t get any money for this ! I would just know if anyone had joined from this link which would be cool .

Helen’s Invitation to Kiva

Why not join up and explore the site, you have very little to lose and if you decide to lend, someone else has everything to gain. This is a hand-up not a hand-out. As lenders we don’t choose what people do with the money we lend . They choose and we support them in that choice if we like what they propose… which I find very dignifying. 

You can buy Kiva cards on the site too in multiples of $25 and they make great gifts which can be emailed to the recipient, so it’s not too late 😉 

Kiva Cards

For those who know me well and know my socialist leanings, you might wonder why I am supporting something which smacks of capitalism, it’s pretty much spelled out in the Kiva photograph above which says this “Talent is equally distributed across the human family, but opportunity is not ” 

I am trying to redress that balance, in a very small way, by giving those borrowers I support the gift of self-determination, which I have, only because of an accident of birth.

Finally a health warning – As my Kiva buddy and fellow Kivaholic Bruce might say “helping others to help themselves is seriously addictive and brings great pleasure ! “

“You love more you win”

As ever I welcome your thoughts.

Saturday girl signing off til whenever and have a peaceful holiday season.


You can find my photography blog Photomania here 


Loans that change lives 2


Do you need to shop today? Yes? Think again – It’s Buy Nothing day ( UK)

Saturday 1391  – 30.11.2013

If you are new to my blog take a look at my About page here

Hiya all you people out there.. I got to my 2 years of blogging, here on 1500 Saturdays, 6 weeks ago and then had a break. I’ve been busy and joyfully preoccupied but more of that another time.

it's not me who buys too much


I wanted to remind those in the UK that today, 30th November is Buy Nothing Day, a subject I have visited before but am unashamedly revisiting.

If you go out shopping this Saturday ask yourself whether you or the person you are buying a present for truly needs the item in question. Could you spend less or spend some of the money you’d intended to spend on something that will benefit others? Maybe through a Charity like Save The Children, Oxfam, WaterAid or TreeAid.. there are lots of charities to choose from.  Could you give more of your time rather than more of your money, Presence rather than Presents, or spend it on buying an unforgettable experience, maybe one to share with the person, rather than an object.

I’m not against Christmas  ( okay Bah Humbug!!) but for some years now I have been less and less enamoured with the commercialism, at this time of year,  that encourages greed in everyone.  If you must shop Buy Nothing organisation suggest you might like to shop locally and support Independent shops. Here’s a stat from their website which I have a link to at the bottom of this post – “For every £1 spent in an independent shop – 50p goes back into the local economy. For every £1 spent at a supermarket only five pence goes back into the local community.”

Interesting Stat that isn’t it?

Here’s another one in picture form..


My final picture below shows very succinctly how I think our society has its emphasis in all the wrong places . 

I vote for less greed and more compassion every time.. Less is so often so much more.



You can read more about Buy Nothing Day  here


 As ever I welcome your thoughts.


Saturday girl signing off.


You can find my photography blog Photomania here