One of the most rewarding things about travel can be giving back to the communities you visit. But how can you give back when you’re not traveling?
I recently stumbled upon Kiva, a non-profit organization that digitally connects people like you and I to underdeveloped countries across the globe. Kiva is a different kind of giving. Through personal loans, you can help alleviate poverty and empower others to live better, even when you’re miles away.
I met a group of working women who are taking control of their own destiny and reinventing the way they live.
Rugiatu and three other entrepreneurs run the local food market in Magburaka, Sierra Leone, a town of only 40,000 people. Rugiatu is the founder of this market and has become the main source of income for her business partners and their families.
In the west, most dream of being lawyers, doctors, sporting exotic cars, or traveling the world. But Rugiatu’s goal is much simpler than that.
Her goal is a simple matter of oil and rice.
But how can these two everyday foods, so easily accessible to you and I, do so much good for people like Rugiatu?
In West Africa, palm oil is one of the most essential nutrients needed to make food healthy enough for consumption. The challenges of disease and malnutrition means palm oil is high in demand here. Women cook with it daily to provide nutritional meals for their families, but businesses also make their living from selling oil as a cash or export crop. In peak seasons palm oil sells cheaply but in low demand seasons, businesswomen like Rugiatu can re-market it at four times the purchase price. Because of its affordability and versatility, she also sells uncooked rice, another staple of the African diet and the region’s popular cassava dishes.
In Sierra Leone, 70% of the population live below the poverty line, life expectancy is only at 56 and health care is almost non-existent but Rugiatu is trying to make life better in her village. By having the means to buy gallons of oil and bags of rice, she is able to grow her business, feed her family, and nourish an entire community of other families. All with a $25 loan, continents away.
A Kiva loan is more than just financial support. It’s empowerment. It empowers others to be independent, self-sufficient, and change their lives. So far, there are more than 700,000 lenders. When you lend, you can check out the profile of a borrower you want to help, learn about who they are, where they live, and how your loan can impact them directly.
Do you know a unique charity? Are you a Kiva Lender? How do you give back?
Kiva in a nutshell
Who they help Kiva helps under-developed communities. They create sustainable economies in Africa, Asia, Europe, andSouth America. They improve the standard of living for parents, kids, workers, and students. To date, they’ve used $292 million dollars to support their projects. All without a cent from donations!
How they do it Kiva’s mission is to connect abundant communities like ours with impoverished communities that struggle daily to make ends meet. By leveraging the power of the internet Kiva lets people lend to families, individuals, or entrepreneurs who need help to improve the way they live. Borrowers repay the loan so that lenders can help someone else!
What they do Not only does Kiva help alleviate poverty but it creates opportunity at the same time. The money helps borrowers build homes to live better, build schools so kids can learn, buy goods to re-sell in their family business, and invest in simple things like farming tools to harvest much easier. They are just a few social needs of an endless list.
Travel for Social Good is a series that features sustainable ideas and people around the world using travel to make a difference in the communities and cultures they visit. It’s about building a better world by connecting and contributing locally when we travel, and living in a more meaningful way.