Kiva Zip- A New Way for Philanthropy

Ralph Broadwater, MD, CFP®, AIF®

If you are interested in charitable giving, check out Kiva Zip at https://zip.kiva.orgIn March, 2013 President Bill Clinton was in Arkansas to announce the start of Kiva Zip, a project of Kiva.org to make direct 0% interest loans to entrepreneurs in the United States and Kenya.  This new experimental project is an outgrowth of Kiva.org, an online charity and micro lender. Kiva.org was established to leverage the internet and individuals to help small business owners access credit to grow their business as a way to begin to alleviate world poverty.

I have been a donor at Kiva.org for the past 5 years, and was excited to hear President Clinton announce this new program that would help small business owners in Arkansas, other states, and Kenya.    I logged into their website and explored the 25 current business owners in Arkansas that were requesting small loans to help grow their businesses. I was excited to read about the owners and their plans for business growth. For as little as $25 dollars you can be a lender. This money is repaid to you, and you can loan the repaid money to another deserving business owner.

Kiva Zip differs from Kiva.org in that the loans are direct to the borrower, and are at 0% interest.  (With Kiva.org the loans are made through a local financial intermediary, and are at high interest rates.) Kiva.org was established to help small business owners in third-world countries, while Kiva Zip is an experiment to bring crowd-sourced funding to small business owners in the United States. The Kiva Zip website is even set up so that you can have direct communication with your borrower.

Kiva Zip and Kiva.org are good ways to expand your charitable giving. It is exciting to pick a different small business owner to help with a new loan when your initial loan is repaid. Gift certificates are available, and make great birthday or Christmas presents.  I also think that being a microlender is an excellent way to teach your children or grandchildren about philanthropy. It is hard not to get excited about helping others become financially successful and independent.

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