Support international bicycle businesses through microfinance

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Sunday, November 30, 2008
By Alison Chaiken

Kiva is a Web 2.0 microfinance community allows the affluent to support and interact with small businesses in remote places. Lenders give loans as small as $25 to enterpreneurs all over the world. One kind of business that participants can support through Kiva is bicycle shops. Consider for example the Reaksmey Sar Group of Ta Reab Doun Sar Village, Cambodia:

This village bank loan which consists of twelve people is located in Ta Reab Doun Sar village in Kandal Province. Mrs. Reaksmey Sar is the village bank president who has been selected by the members. She is a 43 year old housewife and the mother of four children, all of whom are attending the local school. Her husband, Mr. Koem Muny, repairs bicycles. In this business, he now faces a small problem because he does not have enough money to buy bike equipment for his customers. Thus, his wife, Mrs. Reaksmey Sar, decided to ask for a loan to buy more bike equipment for her husband's business.

The Reaksmey Sar Group needs $175 in increments as small as $25 each to complete their loan. Why not support cycling in Cambodia this holiday season? And if you do join Kiva, be sure to sign on to the "Move Your World" team of cycling supporters.

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I really really love the idea of Kiva and microfinance and helping people in third world countries. I've been a Kiva lender for over a year and have $250 in loans on the website.

Unfortunately, Kiva's field partners charge incredibly high interest rates to the borrowers that people like you and me are trying to help. The field partner on the loan you highlighted charges an average of 30% interest on the money you give them to lend. While Kiva lists the rate from 'other' lending sources in the area as 120%, is charging someone in a third world country 30% interest on a loan really the best way to help people and to fight poverty?

Since a few months ago I have only re-lent the money I have in Kiva to loans whose field partners charge less interest than the Kiva average (22.91%) and try to support those that charge well below that. Instead of putting more money into Kiva, I have been donating (versus lending) to other organizations that help others in third world countries.

Anyways, I like your article for its focus on bike-centric organizations and I will be making a holiday donation to Bikes Not Bombs (or similar organization)
Great idea, promoting environmental transportation and the economies of developing countries (two birds with one stone).
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