Here’s a story to illustrate the validity of the phrase “community of book bloggers.” We are a community of readers and writers whose impact on each other can reach further than the book recommendations we love to give and receive.
During Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW) 2008, Fashionista Piranha wrote a guest post about kiva.org on My Friend Amy’s blog. She explained how this web-based microlender connects individual lenders with entrepreneurs throughout the world. I thought, “wow, that’s really a neat concept,” but I didn’t do anything further with it.
About six months later, kiva.org crossed my path again when I read a blurb in our church newsletter mentioning that Jessica Jackley, the co-founder of the organization, would be the speaker at this year’s Al Filipov Peace and Justice Forum. Al Filipov was a resident of our town who was on board American Airlines Flight #11 and died in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Loretta Filipov, his wife, created the Forum in 2002 “to articulate those issues about which Al cared deeply and to demonstrate how one person can make a profound impact on the lives of those in his or her community”. Each year’s forum is designed to be both informative and thought-provoking.
I put the date on my calendar – September 26 … many of you were attending the National Book Festival that weekend. I wished I could have been in two places at once, but I was meant to stay home and attend the Forum.
Jessica Jackley is incredibly well-spoken and poised. She speaks passionately about the foundation of kiva.org, the mission, and where it’s going. The overwhelming theme is people helping people – individuals can make small investments (starting at $25) directly to entrepreneurs worldwide. Here are a few statistics showing what has happened since kiva.org launched in March 2005 with seven loans totalling $3,500:
- $90 million has been loaned
- 250,000 entrepreneurs have received loans
- kiva.org has entrepreneurs in 181 countries
- over 500,000 lenders (individuals)
- repayment rate is an impressive 98%
What happens when you visit the web site? You can look at the profiles of entrepreneurs for a given geographical region or economic sector (i.e., entrepreneurs working in education, retail, manufacturing, farming, etc.). You can even sort by gender. Read a little about the entrepreneur, how much of an investment they’re looking for, and what they plan to do with it. For example, Rosa is asking for a loan of $500 to purchase additional clothing for her retail business – that’s 20 people lending $25 each. When her loan goal has been met, the funds will be dispersed to her, she’ll be able to purchase her supplies and begin repaying the loan. When the load is repaid, money is returned to the lender’s kiva.org account. At that time the lender can either withdraw their funds, or turn around and loan it to another entrepreneur.
I think this is a brilliant project idea for an individual, family, or community group. My kids are excited to be able to see the photo and read the bio of the entrepreneur they’re supporting. What a way to empower our children to make a conscious choice to help an individual, and to show them the far-reaching impact of that choice!
Back to the books – I want to thank My Friend Amy for founding BBAW and fostering the concept of a community of book bloggers. Thanks, too, to Fashionista Piranha for introducing me to kiva.org.
How has a book blogger impacted your life?