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Adventures In Microfinance

At this moment I have money sitting in: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Benin, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Tajikistan, Tanzania, The Democratic Republic Of The Congo, Ukraine, and the United States.

No, I’m not part of an international crime syndicate and I’m not running an import/export business that sells Angry Birds stuffed animals. I’m just a firm believer in the power of microfinance and I use Kiva.org to lend money to deserving entrepreneurs around the world.

My first loan was to Rabih, a 27-year-old Lebanese single man living alone. He has six years of experience working in the agricultural field. In 2008 he started to work on his own, cultivating vegetables and bananas to sell in local markets. He asked to borrow $1,000 to buy new farming supplies and perform the needed maintenance on the canal that supplies his land with water. $1,000 might not seem like a lot, but when the average annual income in Lebanon is $5,900, it’s basically two months of salary.

Back in August, 33 complete strangers decided to lend the full $1000 to Rabih. I gave him $25. Since then he’s already paid back 24% of the loan, making all of his payments back on time. The money is helping him increase his business productivity, which will in turn return higher profits in the future. As Rabih grows as an entrepreneur, perhaps he’ll be able to create more jobs in his area. Perhaps he’ll even someday lend money out to other aspiring entrepreneurs.

I’ll never have the chance to meet Rabih or the other entrepreneurs who are out there hustling every day, but they are an inspiration to me to keep pushing on. The stories on their lending pages are pretty incredible.

I try to keep $1000 worth of loans out at a time. When I get repayments back every month, I just relend the money to another set of hard working entrepreneurs. I suppose I could have the money in a saving account, earning a measly 1% interest. Or I could have it in the stock market and be subject to the extreme volatility of the market’s upswings and downswings. I’d much rather have it out there making a difference though instead of sitting in a bank account.

One of my goals on the List of Adventure is to help 100 entrepreneurs build better lives for themselves through Kiva. I’m about halfway to my goal and once I get there I plan on leaving my money where it’s actually doing some good.

If you’re interested in using your money to make a difference in someone’s life, click here and get started today.

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