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Entrepreneurs escaping poverty

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Wednesday October 15, 2008 )

For a bit of inspiration when I have a case of “poor me”, I turn to the amazing story of a 70 year old business owner named Joyce who works a quarry – and the stories of thousands of other entrepreneurs like her who are clawing their way out of poverty.

Joyce has five children and 4 grand children. Her husband deserted her many years ago. In 2005, she was destitute; not even enough money to feed her family. She went to work in a quarry so she could put food on the table. Through back breaking work, she learned and saved enough to buy her own quarry plots.

Her business is doing well, but she recently needed new equipment to break and shape the stones. She wasn’t after tens of thousands of dollars for whizz bang machinery, just a paltry $975 for basic tools.

Enter Kiva – the online micro financing organization that’s helping entrepreneurs around the world build their businesses and escape the clutches of poverty.

Basically how it works is that a number of lenders, ordinary folks like you and me, get together to collectively fund these entrepreneurs with low interest loans. Each lender contributes a minimum of $25. Lenders don’t make any money on these loans, but their money is returned to them so it can be reinvested into a loan for another entrepreneur, or withdrawn.

30 of us pooled the cash to loan Joyce the money she needs and she’ll now be able to expand her business without the worries of huge amounts of interest to pay back.

Online business can be tough, but the entrepreneurs out at Kiva make many of our woes seem so petty. They really are an inspiration. Check out some of the stories of other entrepreneurs I’ve had the privilege to assist on my Kiva portfolio page.

You can play a role in helping these people escape poverty with such a small amount of money. If you can spare 25 bucks, and remember, it’s not a handout, but a loan – take a look through the Kiva listings and help a fellow entrepreneur achieve their dreams.

Unlike many of us, their dreams are simple – not fast cars and luxury yachts; but things like good food, clothing and a decent education for their children. That’s certainly not too much to want.

By the way, this post is my contribution to Blog Action Day – one day a year when bloggers around the world write on a common topic related to social justice and environment. This year’s topic is poverty. If you’re a blogger, it’s still not too late to get involved!


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