All right, so its not just about art. But the Kiva microloan website is helping connect microlenders and borrowers around the world and its pretty cool. It is trying to fight global poverty one person at a time, including artists.
Kiva bills itself as the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website. Using the Internet and microloan organizations worldwide, it’s goal is to let individual lenders from anywhere in the world make small loans (in any amount) – a few dollars to help a weaver buy silk or a potter buy clay materials and glazes. What you give you get back because its a loan. And their payback rate is higher than 98%.
Earlier this Fall, a controversy erupted when a New York Times article revealed that the loans were not as one-to-one as Kiva represented. It’s a shame, because that kind of connection is exactly what can drive the desire to help and contribute financially to the problem of global poverty.
But Kiva remains an important channel of funds for microloans. The money from individual lenders does go to microlending institutions who in turn lend money to microbusinesses. Kiva gift certificates are small loan amounts that you prepay and then give to someone as a potential lender.
A quick review of the entrepreneur database reveals arts related recipients, like carvers, and weavers and clothing makers and jewelry makers.
Once the loan is repaid, the lender can keep the money or find someone else to lend the money to – a gift that keeps on giving.
* This blog has been altered from its original thanks to the timely comments of an Art Threat reader pointing out the controversy.