I have been thinking about how to use the Fast Running Blog to make a difference. It already does to an extent by encouraging people to improve their health through running and pushing the limits of their vision by setting and achieving challenging goals. But I was not satisfied with that. We live in a troubled world where a lot of people experience economic hardship through no fault of their own. I do not think we realize the extent of their plight, the feeling of being trapped, and having no future for no other reason that you happened to be born in the wrong circumstances. The thought of how to help those people has been on my mind for a long time, but I did not know how.
I was delighted to discover a website Kiva.Org that provides micro-loans giving a chance to people in developing countries to start or grow a small business. This means that with the help of a computer, internet access, and a PayPal account we can help somebody get up on their feet. What is even better, the money you give comes back as it is repaid, and can be lent to somebody else. You can also withdraw the money if you so desire upon repayment.
You have full control of what happens with the money. You decide who you will lend to. You have an option to donate to Kiva separately for operational expenses, in which case you specify the amount, but you are not required to do so. Thus, in contrast with your average charity operation, you know exactly where your money went and what happened to it.
Kiva loan repayment rate is around 99.5%. I find that amazing. If we did that well on our loans here in the US we would not have had our current financial crisis. Because the people who receive the money are grateful for what they receive they treat it carefully, and in most cases are able to pay it back. Thus Kiva can be used as a fairly low risk place to keep your extra money that you are saving it for something special. From a monetary perspective it is much better than giving it to Bernie Madoff, and not that much worse than putting it into a CD with the interest rates asymptotically approaching a big fat zero.
To join Kiva and start lending, visit http://kiva.org
. Once you have created an account you are encouraged to join the Fast Running Blog lending team. To join, click on the Community tab, search for Fast Running Blog, then click on the link and join.