Thursday, July 5, 2007

We are the Fortunate...

A couple months ago, I came across an interesting website called Kiva (www.kiva.org). Kiva is an organization that allows anyone in the world to loan money to needy entrepreneurs in less developed areas around the world. As a striving entrepreneur, I felt Kiva's mission definitely struck a chord with me. Furthermore, I really respect that Kiva is trying to use capitalism (albeit in a roundabout way) to stimulate growth. Money given to Kiva is not a donation. It is loaned money that most likely would be repaid. Using the revolutionary microfinance model, for which Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Prize, Kiva enables microloans to these entrepreneurs that they are obligated to repay. Even better than that, Kiva uses the power of the web to connect all these people!

It is pretty amazing what growing up in a certain situation affords people in terms of opportunities. In the US, we take for granted how readily available money is. We could be knee-deep in credit card debt and most likely still be able to convince yet another credit card company to give us a new card. Then I think about what it would take to get someone to loan me the money to start a company in an underdeveloped country, and it becomes virtually impossible.

Today I returned to Kiva's website just to check it out again. I was obviously skeptical about where my money would actually go, if I were to loan it, so I did some research. Although I couldn't fly out to places like Cambodia and Azerbaijan, Nicholas Kristof with the New York Times did just that and reported back (http://video.on.nytimes.com/?fr_story=FEEDROOM186917).

I decided that I would loan a small amount ($25) and see where it goes. In retrospect, the path I chose in picking which entrepreneur to support was pretty ridiculous. I like to eat, so I filtered the list of entrepreneurs to those who are trying to grow a food-related enterprise. Then I clicked through about 20 of their profiles and picked the one that had the most amusing picture. This is who I decided on:



Jeoffery Ogbvo who runs Jeoffery's Provision Store in Asaba, Nigeria.

"I have a business that is presently worth about US$ 1500 (Nigerian Naira 200, 000)," says Mr. Jeoffery Ogbvo, "and I hope to expand my inventory with a Kiva loan." Jeoffery is 53 years old and father of six children. He is requesting a loan of $625.
(Click on the picture or here for more information or to loan to Jeoffery.)

I really liked Jeoffery's picture for some reason. I can't tell if he is confused, frightened, or pissed off. For some reason his expression makes me chuckle and thus we became friends...business friends. I also liked the fact that his store was named a provision store. It sounds old school. I think one of the most absurd things I did was to Google for "Jeoffrey's Provision Store Asaba Nigeria" in hopes of determining some legitimacy of his enterprise. 0 hits.

Well I encourage you all to take a look at Kiva and make a microloan. I even more strongly encourage you to support my friend, Jeoffery. Do your own research and hopefully you'll come to the same conclusion as me.

1 comment:

Publisher said...

That's really cool to get involved like that, but Nigeria... seriously... haha... at least it doesn't look like a 419 provision store ;)