When you invest in women, you also invest in their family, their community, and in the next generation of change. And Kiva is making it happen.
Usually, when we talk about crowdfunding, we're referring to platforms such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo, and while those crowdfunding sites can help boost new products, the pledges are ultimately usually selfish in nature. I tend to become a backer of a specific crowdfunding campaign so that I can pre-order the product that I want, so it's not exactly as if I just want the campaign to succeed. And while I can acknowledge the indirect benefits that a successful company or product can enable, through job creation or adding to the tax base of the region where the company is located, I generally back things because I want a direct reward for doing so (like a new gadget or book).
However, there's a different flavor of crowdfunding, perhaps more accurately called crowdinvesting (crowdvesting?), which has been gaining in popularity for raising funds for more traditional businesses, and one organization that has been taking that to a whole new level has been Kiva, which connects individual lenders with those looking to work their way out of poverty through microfinance.
And in honor of International Women's Day (March 8th, 2016), Kiva is attempting to raise $1 million USD in loans that go to women entrepreneurs, not because men don't need these microloans (they do as well), but because investing in women can have a much bigger impact on the communities they live in.
Why is it so important to support women entrepreneurs with microfinance lending? According to Kiva, women tend to reinvest some 80% of their income toward the education and wellbeing of their families, which amplifies the effect of these loans. Women entrepreneurs and business owners also set a great example for younger generations, and set them up for success through this mindset, while modeling to others the ability to take advantage of the opportunities that come up for them. And last, but not least, there is still a "significant gender gap in financial inclusion" around the globe, so investing in women is one way to help narrow that gap.
"In every corner of the globe, women entrepreneurs are breadwinners, changemakers, and transformational leaders. As their businesses and incomes grow, children’s health and education improve, jobs are created, poverty and hunger is reduced for everyone, and countries become stronger. Yet, the economic potential of women entrepreneurs globally remains largely untapped. The lack of access to finance is a persistent barrier that limits women’s ability to start or expand their businesses and fully participate in economic, social, and political life. This holds back women, their families, communities, and entire economies." - Kiva
I've been a Kiva lender for a little while now, and have made several loans through the platform, and I find it to have a low barrier to entry ($25 isn't that much to me, but can be a significant amount to someone else) and to be one of the most respected microfinance institutions, with a serious vetting process and a true dedication to having a beneficial impact (and 100% of the money loaned through Kiva goes to funding the loans). And did I mention that these are loans, not donations?
If you can go without a latte every day for a week (or whatever your daily/weekly luxury item is), you can help change the life of a woman entrepreneur, as well as the lives of the people in her family and community.
Find out more at kiva.org/her.