Early each morning, one of the first sounds from the street below our apartment here in Phnom Pehn is a noisy squeak-squeak of a cornet, followed by the singing announcement “etchay, etchy”. Down below us, the recyclers are already at work.
The people of Cambodia work hard to earn a living; a family working together collected and recycling can make from 7,000 to 10,000 riel in profits for a day’s work – about $2.50 in US currency. Enough, they say, to get by, and keep the family together. As the day goes by, and the heat starts to build – it’s a seemingly impossible job as they move through the streets pulling their cart behind them.
When I travel, I often rely on TripAdvisor to help me locate all my tourist needs – accommodations, eating, and sightseeing. I’ve been posting regularly to TripAdvisor, as much to help other travelers make good choices as to pay those have had provided me really great advice. Needless to say, I’ve been posting reviews for nearly a month now, all here in Cambodia. Usually, the emails I get from TripAdvsior let me know that my review was posted, or viewed, or questioned. But this week, they sent me something new….
…An Invitation to Join Kiva!
Kiva Microfunds (commonly known by its domain name, Kiva.org) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit
organization that allows people to lend money via the Internet to people in developing countries through Kiva’s 142 partner microfinance institutions, which Kiva calls field partners. Kiva includes personal stories of each person who needs a loan because they want their lenders to connect with their entrepreneurs on a human level. Kiva itself does not collect any interest on the loans it facilitates. It is purely supported by grants, loans, and donations from its users, corporations, and national institutions. Kiva is headquartered in San Francisco, California.
Giving Here At Home
I’d read about these new lending vehicles for several years, and as a lender myself, embraced the idea. But I had never taken the next step. Here was my opportunity. And Tripadvisor GAVE me $25 to get started, no strings attached –when I investigated I found that In March 2012, Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn’s Co-Founder, lent Kiva $1 million. Kiva then allowed 40,000 people to lend $25 for “free.” It worked; the more I knew, the more I wanted to participate!
This time of year is traditionally a time of gift giving for many of us, and there are many fine opportunities in our own community. I’ve found Willamette Week’s list especially easy to navigate, allowing you to select your non-profit area of interest, and then clicking to chose.
Get to know this year’s incredible line-up of worthy nonprofits.
I’m Excited about Joining Kiva!
As I looked through the list of possible borrowers, I selected Sokhern, a 50 year old mother
of 5, from Battanbang, who has been a recycler for two years. She would like a loan of $1,000. A loan of $1,000 helps Sokhern to buy garbage (recyclables) for resale and expand her business. So far, only 27% raised, with $725 to go.
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This week, I’m coming back to my usual job as a real estate lending officer.