Local Website Helps Third World Countries Do Business
Apr. 13 - KGO (KGO) -- A Bay Area nonprofit is changing lives in towns and villages half a world away. Kiva.org lets anyone with just a little bit of money be a banker to the poor.
Ken Gardner is a real estate agent in San Francisco. He is also helping start a restaurant in Togo, a fruit stand in Ecuador, and a dairy farm in Bulgaria.
Ken Gardner, Investor: "We are really helping people that don't want charity but just need the capital to make their own way, and we feel really good about that."
Gardner is a part of a growing number of people who are micro lending. Micro loans are designed for people in third world countries who don't have credit or collateral to get a small loan from a bank.
All of these loans are possible because of this new website KIVA.org. Once you log on all you need is your credit card, and with $25 dollars you can help someone in a developing country start their own business."
Since KIVA launched a year and a half ago they've approved $5 million dollars in loans.
Angel Isaev is a gypsy from Bulgaria and with a Kiva loan he was able to open a bicycle repair shop. the president of Kiva says all their loans have been repaid within a years time
Premal Shah, kiva.org President: "We wire it to a field partner in Tanzania or Uganda or Honduras they get that money, they turn around and disperse it to the entrepreneur that was on the Kiva website."
Borrowers pay an average interest rate of 16-percent. That's high, but much less than any local bank will give them. That money funds Kiva's partner agencies in the developing countries. Kiva operates on donations and grants.
Although the lenders don't make interest, Gardner says tracking the progress of the people he is helping on- line is good enough.
Ken Gardner: "Kiva gives me an opportunity to do something I wouldn't otherwise do, and that is to help people in 3rd world countries that are really just getting their start."
To learn more about Kiva, www.kiva.org
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