I’m glad you asked!
There are three key ways that you can get involved in this endeavor. If you think of my Kiva Fellowship as an experience for me, for Kiva lenders, and for Kiva borrowers, then it is easy to see the three areas you can enter into this relationship.
The most important way you can get involved if you haven’t already, is to create your own lender page on Kiva.org and start lending! You can lend as little as $25 and the current repayment rate is 98.6%. Kiva has recently introduced increased liquidity to its site by allowing you to withdraw money as the borrower pays you back. Thus if you gave $100 to a farmer in Bolivia as part of a 4 month loan, you could withdraw $25 a month given he paid back his loan on time. Then, you have the option of withdrawing that partial repayment back into your bank account or re-lending it to another business. The potential is incredible. Your $100 in a year could conceivably support 12 poor entrepreneurs in their businesses! I won’t attempt to explain it all here; you should go to Kiva.org and play around with the features. You can search for businesses by type of activity, region of the world, loan length, loan amount, etc. If you feel so inclined (and inclined so I hope), you can click on the links to the right to lend to businesses facilitated by the two Microfinance Institutions I am assigned to.
Another way you can get involved is to spread the word of Kiva.org (to everyone!) and Kiva Fellows (to your friends who could take 10wks to many months off their job traveling the world interviewing poor entrepreneurs and writing blogs like this one!). Once you have a lender page set up, Kiva has an option for you to send out invitations to your friends/family/enemies. More innovative approaches that I fully condone are hosting a Kiva house party and talking about Kiva and microfinance at your school/church/organization. To me, I think Kiva and microfinance has something to say to all three. If you are thinking about hosting a Kiva house party, I have a bunch of PowerPoint material I received during my Kiva Fellow training that I would love to share with you. If you want an idea for a house party, please read my entry on Sierra Visher and I’s dinner in DC. If you have a region in mind, have a potluck or cook food specific to that area! If you want money to be involved, throw a $25 a plate dinner and use the proceeds to loan to businesses on Kiva (You could even teach all participants how to set up their own lender page, put everyone who attended in one lending team group (i.e. A Neverending Potluck), and have all your loans counted to that team…in a year’s time, if you had 10 people give $25, your potluck dinner could have dramatically affected 40 businesses!). If you share at your youth group or high school economics class, make a group too (i.e. Grace Fellowship Church) and see how a one-time event can have compound effects on dozens of lives!
A final way to get involved is to support me in my Kiva fellowship. My position is unpaid and I’ve funded it with my savings. I have included a Paypal Donation button here and on my menu if you want to pay by credit card online. Another way is to write a check to me (Kiva Fellow Josh Bull) and send it to my parent’s address at 4575 Redspruce Drive, Lilburn, GA 30047. They have the ability to deposit the checks in my account in the States. One exciting way of supporting me that I want to heavily encourage is putting “Fund KB first” in the memo line of your check. I have a lending team on Kiva’s website called “Supporting Kiva, Supporting Kiva Fellow Josh Bull” that I’ve also included on the menu to the right.
My hope for this lending team is this: I want to encourage people who support me to get involved with Kiva. Because there are so many people in the world who are struggling because they don’t have access to capital, it makes sense to me that any extra capital (economist word for money) that I have lying around ought to be made available to someone who needs it. One of my favorite things about Kiva is that it allows people to transform ANY size amount of capital from IDLE into USEFUL. With this potential dynamic, all of the capital used to support my fellowship is MOVING and USEFUL. As my Kiva lender page implies, I think capital ought to continuously be ENABLING people when they need it. This does that… to a far greater extent than if it is just deposited in my bank account until February. So while I paid for this trip upfront with my savings, I would still appreciate it if people helped me cover those costs so I can pay rent when I get back to DC at the end of January. But, I won’t need that money for several months. Therefore, if you write “Fund KB first” in the memo, I will take your money and loan it out to a business on Kiva’s website. At the end of the loan (which will be several months after it’s made), I will be able to withdraw it and pay for the aforementioned rent. That means if I raise $1000 that I won’t need until February, it can help not only me when the time comes, it can also help fund 40 businesses in the meantime! If you choose to do that, click the link “Join Josh’s Lending Team” on the right menu and I will add you to the team. When I get the check deposited and loaned out, I will email you the name and link of the entrepreneur I supported with your contribution. If you send a check, please email me (Joshua.Bull@fellows.kiva.org) so I know it’s coming and I can let my parents know…it may be a few days between your sending it and my activity. If you are interested in seeing the impact the lending team idea is having, check out THIS PAGE! I’ll be updating it whenever a new member joins and more funds come in.
Just the fact that you are reading this page already means a lot to me. Comments on my journal updates and blog entries are appreciated and I know the other Kiva fellows also love a good comment or sign of support so I encourage you to visit our collective blog as well. If you have anyone you think might be interested in what a Kiva Fellow does and you like this blog, please share the link with as many people as you want/can. Thanks again and I look forward to hearing from you soon via comments, emails to Joshua.Bull@fellows.kiva.org , and activity on Kiva’s website!
Kiva Fellow to EDAPROSPO in Peru and Emprender in Bolivia
October 2nd, 2008 – January 15th, 2009