Media Watch | FrontLine Shows Us The Lives Kiva Changes

All of us here at G Living are big fans and supporters of the non-profit group Kiva enables everyday people like us, to lend money to people in need around the world. Through their website, you are able to learn about people in need of small loans to start or expand business in 3rd world countries. Most of the loans are around one to two thousand, which individuals can group together to raise. Most of the time, each person gives around $25.

The really amazing part about the Kiva site is, you can watch almost in real time as 10 to 20 other people loan their $25 dollars and the loan is complete. Now the person in need will receive the your loan and fulfill their business plan. The loans are paid back over a relatively short period of time and you can either take your money back or choose another person in need.

The PBS show, Frontline World traveled to Africa to meet some of the individuals the micro loans are helping.


Microcredit is not new. It’s been around in one form or another for hundreds of years. But in the Information Age, a San Francisco company has taken the idea of microfinance and upgraded it for the Web. Radio reporter Clark Boyd first reported about for Public Radio International’s news program The World. He now travels to Uganda for FRONTLINE/World, where the first recipients of money collected through Kiva’s Web site are building and expanding businesses.

Kiva, which means “agreement” or “unity” in Swahili, would allow people with a little bit of extra cash to use their credit card or the online money transfer company, PayPal, to lend directly to African entrepreneurs. Kiva got its start a little more than a year ago in Uganda, where it forged partnerships with local microfinance institutes so that each business would be vetted and approved before being posted on the site.

Boyd travels to Uganda to find out more about the real-world impact of these micro loans, He arranges to meet Grace Ayaa, whose peanut butter business received a micro loan through Kiva. When she fled a brutal war between government and rebel forces in the north, she took refuge in the capital. She takes Boyd to the Acholi Quarter, a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Kampala, where many people displaced by Uganda’s decades-long conflict scrape together a living.

Most people living here work all day in the local rock quarry breaking rocks used to build houses. The pay is around $1 a day. Ayaa helps people in the quarter out of the quarry work and into a position where they can start viable businesses with the help of a loan. Traditionally, micro credit is offered through banks that charge as much as 35 percent interest or moneylenders who charge as much as 300 percent. Kiva provides loans from individuals at a fraction of the cost.

Back in San Francisco, we see the other side of the operation, meeting some of the people who found Kiva’s site and decided to make a loan. Nathan Folkert is a software engineer who lives in the city’s Mission District. He read Grace Ayaa’s story online and decided to help fund her peanut butter business. Ayaa is one of 70 businesses Folkert has loaned money to. He pulls up Grace’s journal page where a message is waiting for him. “Thanks so much Nathan,” Grace has written. “I purchased the fridge and bought the packing materials, and this has really enabled me to produce more.”

Other lenders in the United States talk about their experiences. “My husband’s hobby is rebuilding old motorcycles,” says Donna Slote, who loaned to a small motorcycle workshop she saw on the site. “It’s incredibly personal in the sense that you get to choose the specific businesses that you want to loan to. You have a real connection with where your money’s going and what it’s being used for,” adds Slote.

Continue Reading The Story On PBS.ORG

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