Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Kiva: Loans that Change Lives

As educators, we strive to enable our students to become responsible citizens. With ever-increasing global connections through the Internet, our definition of citizenship has taken on more of that global flavour. Kiva is a  perfect opportunity for your students to reach out and make a difference in someone's life.

According to their website, Kiva is a non-profit organization that connects people through lending to help alleviate poverty. Here is how it works in greater detail. Basically, as a lender, you can search through thousands of profiles from people who are looking for funding to complete an entrepreneurial endeavor. Many of the entrepreneurs are trying to create business opportunities in developing nations or are living in impoverished situations. You can lend as little as $25 with the agreement that they'll pay you back when they can.

Watch this video about how Kiva works:

A Fistful Of Dollars: The Story of a Loan from Kieran Ball on Vimeo.

Is there a risk involved? Absolutely. There is always potential for your loan to never come back to you. However, Kiva has over a 98% return rate on their loans and you can increase the odds of return payment by carefully scrutinizing the entrepreneurs' profiles for feedback ratings (similar to a seller on ebay). Click here for more information on the risks of lending.

Kiva doesn't take any commission from the lenders or entrepreneurs. They are 100% funded by donations, grants, corporate sponsors, and foundations.

For me, this is the perfect way to get students involved in global citizenship. Not only can students be involved in the initial raising of funds (bottle drive, bake sale), but they can scrutinize and choose who they feel is most worthy of the money they've earned. Afterwards, students can keep track of their loan through regular updates on the Kiva site, and re-invest once that loan has been paid back.


  1. My sister, a teacher, and a group do this in Red Deer. When each loan is paid off, they reinvest in another person or group. They also keep track of how previously assisted groups are managing. It is really quite amazing. They also expect the group /person they help to pay it forward once they are on their feet. Impressive. I will see what we can get shaking at BCHS.

  2. Awesome! I know that once I return to a classroom setting my students will be doing this as well. It makes so much sense.