Micro-loans are becoming something of a trend now. Anyone can loan as little as $25 to $50 to someone across the globe they've never met. Bob Harris, a man who saw poverty in the world and pledged to himself to do something about it.
Oftentimes these loans go to small businessman and businesswomen who need the money to get started or finish a project. For instance, an individual may need a small loan to open up a new shop, or buy capital for a business they want to start, but they simply don't have the money.
In Bob Harris' case, over 100 micro-loans later he traveled all over the world to meet those he had been lending to, and observe first hand the impact of his dollars. He then documented his journey in his book, "The International Bank of Bob." Harris advocates for a site called Kiva, where anyone can loan to someone and see pictures and descriptions of that person's needs and way of life. Lenders can choose to donate between $25 and $500 to any individual. This means one individual's needs could include loans from several people. (Kiva's steps for micro-loaning include 1. Choose a borrower 2. Make a Loan 3. Get repaid 4. Repeat!)
Harris gives the example that something as simple as a fisherman in Bangladesh who might need a loan to repair a hole in his boat. He already has a sustainable business, and he doesn't need to be taught how to fish, he simply needs the hole repaired. Kiva advertises various needs such a a milk cow, or building supplies to rebuild a home. Borrowers receive the money from Kiva, use it for the reasons stated on their profile, and then work toward paying back the loan.
Micro-lending, while mainly an international phenomena, is also happening right here in our backyard. U.S. citizens participate as borrowers of micro-loans and are just as eligible as an individual in Uganda or Peru.
While not everyone is able to travel around the world meeting those they lend to using micro-loans, online sites and communities have made micro-lending easier and more wide-spread.
- Bob Harris, author of "The International Bank of Bob"