Thursday, December 15, 2011

This Holiday Season, Give Kiva Instead!

Ahhh, the holiday season is upon us with all the usual hustle and bustle it involves.  Assuming you survived Black Friday by opting out completely you are probably prepping for the mad gift giving that will soon be upon us.  While many people may be waffling between the automated turnip twaddler and the latest iProduct that the late Steve Jobs has instructed us we need, I'd like to mention a third alternative.  Why not give the gift of Kiva.

For those of your new to Kiva, it's pretty simple (a couple of clicks), environmentally less invasive (no wrapping required) and a great way to help others.  Kiva is a micro lending organization that helps people all over the globe.  Basically what happens is a stall owner in Jakarta wants to grow her business and help herself, her family, and her community.  She doesn't have access to cash to get it going so she contacts Kiva who then vets her and puts her request online.  Then regular Joes and Janes like us loan money (in $25 increments) and when the loan is funded, the borrower gets her money and she's off to the races.  Over time (generally within a year and with an astounding 90 something percent completion rate) she pays off the loan and you get your money back.  Simple, cool, and highly effective.

So how does this help with your gift giving choices?  Well, Kiva has gift certificates that you can buy and print, email, Facebook, or have sent as a card to that special person in your life.  How cool is that?  Instead of some new gizmo that will end in a landfill, or an iTunes gift card (that will end in a landfill by the way) you can give the gift of giving.  But it doesn't stop there my friends!

Consider this.  You give your little niece a $25 gift loan.  She heads on line and is empowered by perusing the loan applicants, reading about them, deciding on who to fund, and then helping them better their lives.  The loan is paid back to her, she gets an email, and then gets to re-loan that same amount to someone else.  Your gift keeps giving until who knows when?  So it's much more than a one time gift and your niece thinks of you every time she heads onto the Kiva site or gets an update.  And as an added bonus, she's so blown away by all of this, that she gives up her dreams of becoming a corporate overlord and instead decides to devote her life to helping others, creates a non-profit that builds houses for the poor and wins the Nobel Prize!!  And all that for $25!  Wow!

But yeah, she'll probably like that iTunes gift card just as much so i could see this being a toss up.

Happy Happy (and check out Kiva!)