The investments that are intriguing to me these days are in entrepreneurs, particularly those in developing nations such as Rwanda. I just placed my first investment in an entrepreneur in Ghana through Kiva.org. I lent $25 to a woman named Agnes Cobbina for a 7-month term. She owns a hair salon and she wanted to borrow $375 to expand her business. With 14 other lenders, I completed Anges's loan goal. What was remarkable is that I clicked on several different entrepreneurs and by the time I got to the "lend to" page, their goal was already completed. In the 10 seconds that it took me to read a bit about them, someone else had stepped in to help! One loan is made every 14 seconds through Kiva.org.
Some people might think of this as a charitable donation rather than a loan. Nothing could be further from the truth. 99% of those who receive loans through organizations like Kiva.org pay them back in full. How many U.S. investments can say that these days? And not only am I confident that I will receive my money back; I know that I helped someone help themselves through this loan. I am empowering Agnes, providing her with a dignified way to grow her business and support her family.
I'm thrilled to be able to participate with Kiva.org. But I want to do more. I'd be willing to take part of my investment money and provide it directly to an entrepreneur in a country like Rwanda for a return. What an amazing thing it would be to combine the idea of Sharebuilder with that of a Kiva.org. Could this be a new paradigm for global investment?