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There’s an often-quoted piece of proverbial wisdom that goes as follows: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” Variously attributed to the Bible, Maimonides, Lao-Tzu, or vague claims of Indian / Chinese / Navajo / Italian provenance (Quote Investigator notes that the strongest evidence of origin is from an 1885 novel by Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie), this proverb speaks to something universal: It’s human nature to desire self-sufficiency. Yes, we are grateful for the generosity of others when it is needed—but the best feeling is often being able to use our own talents to provide for ourselves and our loved ones.

For many people in this world, however, there are structural obstacles to being able to use their own talents for self-sufficiency. Obstacles to education, inability to access financial systems, even legal laws that do not allow certain types of people (based on gender, race, or nationality) to own property and assets—all of these obstacles can prevent people from becoming self-sufficient.

Kiva is an amazing organization that specializes in microloans to people across the globe who are struggling to overcome these structural obstacles. People apply for microloans, and these projects are vetted and approved by local partners (such as nonprofits, lenders, or social networks). Then the projects go live on the Kiva website for crowdfunding! In this way, donors know exactly who is receiving the resources and for what purpose. 

What I think is particularly ingenious about Kiva is that 96% of these loans get repaid! With just a little investment, people around the world are able to go from “being given a fish” to “learning how to fish.” With the resources made possible by the microloan, Kiva recipients are able to increase their own self-sufficiency and repay these loans with dignity and pride. This repayment goes back to the donor, who can then choose to reinvest this money into a new microloan, and empower another person to achieve their goals! 

Donors can choose to fund projects based on causes they care about, including empowering women, alleviating the effects of COVID-19, increasing access to education, supporting refugees, and so much more! If you want to start lending your money to help empower the self-sufficiency of others, just choose a Kiva category of interest, read about the projects, and click on “lend now” to add your $25 increment to the crowdfunding! And when your loan is repaid, you can feel good about knowing that you helped teach someone to fish. 

Thank you, Kiva, for making the world a better place!