Dear Treeleaf members,
Jundo said that I could post this information about a very interesting charitable organization that might interest the Sangha. The organization is called Kiva (http://www.kiva.org/). Kiva is a microlending organization where you and others worldwide loan money to folks in need. The loan applicant pays the money back over a period of time.
Here's some official details from Wiki:
[i]Kiva Microfunds is an organization that allows people to lend money via the Internet to microfinance institutions in developing countries which in turn lend the money to small businesses. It is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization headquartered in San Francisco, supported by donations from its users and through partnerships with businesses and other institutions.
Kiva allows microfinance institutions around the world, called "Field Partners", to post profiles of qualified local entrepreneurs on its website. Lenders browse and choose an entrepreneur they wish to fund. Kiva aggregates loan capital from individual lenders and transfers it to the appropriate Field Partners to disburse to the entrepreneur chosen by the lender. As the entrepreneurs repay their loans, the Field Partners remit funds back to Kiva. As the loan is repaid, the Kiva lenders can withdraw their principal or re-loan it to another entrepreneur.
Kiva partners around the worldLenders' funds are transferred to Kiva through PayPal, which does not collect its usual fees in this case. Field Partners generally charge interest from their borrowers, although Kiva claims to keep track of how much interest is charged and will not work with those charging unfair interest rates. Kiva lenders do not receive any interest because Kiva is not registered with the US Government as a broker. Kiva claims that its borrowers have a historical repayment rate of about 99.7%.
I really enjoy this group as I feel like I'm helping folks to help themselves. Personally, I've contributed $25 each to 3 loans. And, as I get paid back I can cash it out or relend it to more folks. It is very interesting to see the folks making strides with their lives. And, I like the personal nature of the activity as these peoples stories are amazing. What is even more inspiring is that fact that folks from all around the world loan the money and often fund lenders in 3-4 days! I aslo enjoy seeing the network of connections across the world, a real life example of Indra's Net (maybe?).
If you have any questions, please write me although I'm not expert. If you should decide to join Kiva as a lender, I hope you might join our lending team: Buddhists for World Peace. It is a neat way to team up with a group of folks to help others.