It seems that Honduras has 'come up' in the world. Previously, Haiti was rated as the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. According to the article below, Honduras now rates number one in the category of "chronic hunger," with almost one quarter of the population falling into that category.
Honduras Online Monday, October 23, 2006 Online Edition 39
Hunger on the increaseWell, there isn't much anyone can do to help 1.6 million people, but would you be willing to help one family to be self-sufficient? I would, and I did, and I feel pretty good about it. As CNN reported, "If you've got 25 bucks, a PC and a PayPal account, you've now got the wherewithal to be an international financier."
Honduras is one of the Latin American countries where the number of famished people has increased according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Chronic hunger has reached 23 percent, which represents 1.6 million undernourished Hondurans, seven percent of which are children. The rate has increased during the last few years and Honduras has now surpassed Haiti where the hunger prevalence rate is 18 percent. According to FAO, the situation in Central American is particularly serious since institutional fragility is combined with earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and drought.
Kiva is a fabulous program which rather than giving charity, the organization gives loans to help people start or expand a small business. Kiva accepts loans in $25 increments through Paypal (by credit card or from your Paypal cash balance), and then disburses the funds to people in 13 countries, including Honduras. Most loans have a term of 6 to 12 months. When the loans are repaid, the original lenders are repaid (without interest). Kiva's repayment rate so far has been about 97%.
Kiva partners with Microsoft and many of its leaders are former executives of Google, EBay, and other well known Silicon Valley companies. Additionally, Kiva is the first organization from which Paypal has waived all processing fees. I read Kiva's FAQ and I was really impressed. I hope you will follow the link to Kiva's site and read what they are all about.
Kiva is a 501(c)3 non profit organization but the loans are not donations so are not tax deductible to you, since they will (probably) be repaid and you will get your money back. The hope, of course, is that you will loan your $25 again to another person.
You can decide to whom you want to lend your money by reading the cases of each person, what they need the money for, the expected term of the loan, the payment records of any previous loans, and what they hope to do with their profits. Many plan to send their children to school with their increased earnings − a real investment in the future. It is really quite interesting and heart warming.
Currently Kiva has only four applicants from Hondurans requesting loans. I finished off one of them (Melissa, in the top photo, has a tortilla business) and the remaining three are at the bottom of the sidebar at the right. Click on the names to learn more about the applicant and then click on "lend now" if you are willing to help them. Although I spent a lot of time reading the Kiva site, the process of registering and making the loan took less than two minutes.
At the time I posted this, it would only take four more people lending $25 to give Graciela the loan she needs for equipment for her hair salon. Ten more people at $25 each would give Agosto the loan he needs for his auto painting business and 12 more people at $25 each would give Maria the loan she needs for supplies for her restaurant. The badges will be updated automatically and when those loan needs are met, the badges will change to other random applicants.
100% of your loan goes to the recipient. If you want to lend more than $25, it can be split among any number of applicants. This is doable! Can we get Graciela her loan today?
Imagine the pride people feel when they have repaid their loan, versus the shame of having to accept charity. Imagine also what this process teaches their children about self-sufficiency and honoring one's commitments.
Note: Just after I posted this article, three more Honduran applicants were added to the Kiva list. The list is ever changing as loan funding and new applications are received. The badges, however, should always show the current needs, rather than the amounts listed in this article.
October 27, 2006: See the follow up article here.