Kiva is a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.
Through the website, you select projects to fund, and then lend to one, or more, of them. When the loans are repaid, you can choose either to take back your money, or to relend. As a lender you receive regular updates about the project and the status of your loan. To see more about how lending works, click here.
What else can you do?
Apart from being a lender, Kiva has a volunteer translation program. Kiva’s Review and Translation Program relies on over 300 volunteers to edit, translate, and thoroughly review loan profiles from around the world. Kiva Volunteer Translators translate loan profiles and review them to ensure that each profile is understandable to lenders and complies with Kiva’s policies. Each profile provides a brief overview of the entrepreneur’s background and their microloan use. You can review examples on Kiva’s Lend page.
Volunteers review and translate Kiva loans on their personal computers from their homes, offices, local coffee shops, the beach, etc., using Kiva’s web interface. Loans are posted by Field Partners daily and are translated in order of priority based on when they are received. The system gives trained translators a great deal of flexibility, as they can self-assign loans to translate at any time of the day or night.
Kiva currently has volunteer teams for translation from French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish into English. To find out more click here.
Kiva also has opportunities for a legal intern based in San Francisco to help research legal issues pertinent to Kiva’s strategy and operations and create presentations and other documentation to help educate Kiva staff on these legal issues, as well as helping Kiva assess the possibilities of extending its microfinance efforts in new countries and regions. This is an ideal position for a law student with previous experience with cross-border transactions looking to volunteer their skills with Kiva and in turn, to learn from the legal issues that Kiva faces. For more information click here.
So far, this approach has enabled Kiva to raise $366 million in loans for 844,081+ entrepreneurs in 62 countries, momentum which it looks to continue in the coming years as it positions itself to achieve $1 billion in loans across a variety of sectors by 2017.
You might also be interested in this post about volunteering with the United Nations.