I've been meaning to do a Kiva update for awhile now (If you don't remember about Kiva, you might want browse through these posts).
It's hard to believe that in a few months, I will have been on the site for 2 years. While I haven't written about it much of late, I am still micro-lending money on a regular basis.
I admit to going bonkers (ok, addicted!!) when I first started... and throwing quite a bit of money into it... but the great thing (especially in these economic times that is scaring many of us into being conservative with our cash) is that I haven't added any new $$$ in quite some time (I'm guessing at least a year!), but just recycling the cash into new loans... in fact, it has got to the point where the money is being paid back faster than I can re-loan it!
As of this morning, I am up to 158 loans in my Kiva portfolio! 86 of those are paid-back loans (with the funds re-loaned or in my "credit bank" waiting to be re-loaned... or returned to me if I so choose), 70 are active, 1 was refunded, and 1 default (so lost that $$$, but as you see a rare occurrence).
One of the fun things is trying to find is looking for new countries. I added Mongolia just yesterday. At the moment, I have/had loans to 44 countries! I will certainly admit I've had to look at a map to see where some of them are! Here is my list of countries:
Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cote D'lvoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatamala, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Lebanon, Mali, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Peru, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somoa, Sudan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Ukraine, Viet Nam
I do my best to find some connection with the folks I lend to... the majority of the time, it is something about their photo that catches my eye... though lately I have been seeking out things that I'd like to personally support... two of those searches are "books" and "photography"... which my regular W&C readers know are two things near and dear to me.
I had a "hit" with one of those this morning with a loan I made to Solomon in Ghana:
Solomon is 37 years old. He is married and has three children. He loves his work. They live in the central region of Ghana with his entire family. He has been a general photographer for the past year now. He also does video shooting. He owns a photography and video shop where his clients pose for their photographs. He also goes to occasions like parties and concerts to take photographs of his clients. He is requesting a loan to buy additional tools and materials like a camera, flash, video camera etc. to expand his operations. He wants to buy a motor bike, which he believes will ease the distances he walks to take pictures. Solomon belongs to a village bank called ‘Adwendaho’,which means ‘Clear mind’.
This kind of thing is what makes Kiva such a cool site! Again, I know it's not a great financial time - but I really encourage everyone to check Kiva out (my beginner's advice to not get discouraged would be to look for shorter-term loans and good "risk ratings")... it has been an incredibly rewarding / fulfilling experience for me... and certainly puts things in perspective when I need a little kick in the bootie.