kiva love

some time ago, when we were taking a really useful finance class for our master's degrees here at full sail, kirk and i both learned about an organization called kiva that provides a way for everyday people like you and me to help fund business loans to individuals living in third-world countries. these can be people running established businesses who need extra capital to expand their existing product offerings, staff size, or inventory, or these can be people who want to start something new to help improve the quality of their lives through their established trade and abilities.

what's interesting about kiva is that it's in the business of making loans, rather than donating free money. i like the feeling of empowerment that gives the individuals who receive the loans, like they are receiving our faith in their character and their trade to keep making a living so that they can steadily pay back the loan.

these are short-term loans that are provided by the collective good will of many, many people. let me tell you how it works by sharing the story of ludmila.

this is ludmila yenina. she lives in the ukraine, where she is married and has one daughter. for two years, she has been running a nail care salon in a very popular area of town that attracts many new clients. she has invested $3000 in her business in the last two years, and she currently makes a profit of $1000 per month.

what first drew me to ludmila was her smile. isn't it great? then i learned the name of her nail center is mriya, which translates "dream." i loved that, too.

but the clincher was learning the following about who ludmila is:

ludmila has a unique ability to understand people and build relationships with her customers. moreover, she can generate new business ideas and handle stress very well.

i loved learning that ludmila instinctively knows how to care for people, but that she also knows how to run a business. both are essential for someone in a service-based industry, don't you think? of course, knowing me, what drew me to her the most was getting that little glimpse into her heart by learning how she cares for her customers.

but here's the amazing part. when i found ludmila's profile page last night, when i was hunting around for just the right person to help with my first-ever kiva loan, i saw that about 10 people had already contributed to ludmila's loan request of $1,075. together, they had contributed about $350 of this amount. after my small contribution of $25, she still needed $700.

what's amazing to me is that this morning, less than 24 hours later, i learned that the balance of the loan had already been fully funded. what's more, the entire loan amount had already been transferred to ludmila's account in the ukraine. whoa! talk about a great way to learn firsthand the power of this great organization that is kiva . . . $700 in less than 24 hours?! i checked back on her loan page and saw that about 9 people had come along behind me since about 11 o'clock last night to contribute that last $700 chunk. wow.

i really thought it would take quite a long time to get the balance of ludmila's loan funded; i anticipated checking the current loaned amount quite regularly, cheering her on as the number slowly inched upward. i was blown away to learn that all the money she needed was secured already this morning and that her loan had already been transferred into her account, moving it into active status. now, instead of watching the loan funds accrue to reach the amount she needed, i can watch the progress of her repayment of the loan back to all of us, which will be fully repaid in 8 months.

it feels so good to be a part of something like this, to know that ludmila is over on the other side of the world right now, thrilled and thankful to have just received the monies she needs to help improve her business and provide even more favorably for her family. i love knowing what her smile looks like in this exact moment. and it feels good, too, to know this was a collective effort among 20 strangers living all over the world, who decided to play a part, big or small, in helping to make it happen because they care.

as i share on my kiva profile page that i created last night, after contributing to this process for the very first time: i loan because i admire bravery. ludmila is a brave, strong woman, and i honor her right now.