Passport Series: Reaching refugees and other vulnerable communities in Lebanon

To conclude our Passport Series on Lebanon, we want to share a few inspiring borrower stories to remind you just how important and impactful your $25 can be.

Meet Hayat.

A 56 year-old wife and mother, Hayat lives in a refugee camp just outside of Beirut. But, as a Syrian refugee, she's not actually a Lebanese citizen.

Naturalization in Lebanon is almost impossible without marrying a Lebanese man -- and Hayat’s husband is also a non-citizen. This means that their children also live without registered IDs or nationalities.

One of Kiva partner Al Majmoua’s first clients served back in 1997, Hayat received her first loan of $200 to set up a small shop in her home selling toys and flowers. Since then, she has a cumulative borrowing history of $28,275 via 12 individual loans and 8 group loans!

With this capital, she has expanded her store’s inventory to include a wide variety of products like embroidery, vases, beadwork, stationary, school products, and more.

Hayat’s quality of life and the well-being of her family has vastly improved with the expansion of her business. The loans have allowed her to fund her husband’s medical treatments, her children’s education, and even renovate her home.

Today, Hayat is almost in disbelief at her success and is extremely appreciative of Al Majmoua’s support -- “Who would have said that a woman can start her own business? Thanks to Al Majmoua this has become possible," she says.

This is Hana.

Single at 47 years old, Hana has owned her own business weaving one-of-a-kind carpets for 25 years.

Hana has no children of her own, but she cares for her brother’s three children because he is experiencing financial hardships. When she took over responsibility for the kids, she knew she would need extra income. To cover their school fees Hana applied for a loan from Al-Majmoua to buy sheep cotton to expand her business.

Her business is unique in that she is one of the few people who still works with a traditional cotton weaving loom. This antiquated technique makes her product very special and desirable -- and she already has a network of loyal clients who value her unique work and regularly come to her with special orders.

Now Hana has a new goal: develop her business by teaching others her trade, and eventually open up her own professional shop.

Al Majmoua has been working with Kiva for over 5 years and has provided almost $5.5 million in loans to over 4,000 entrepreneurs. We love that among those served, Al-Majmoua makes a concerted effort to reach out to refugees like Hayat. Without Kiva funds and support, Al Majmoua may not have the capacity to make these high social impact loans.


This is the last of a three-part series looking at microfinance and Kiva’s impact in Lebanon. We hope you will consider lending to a borrower in this small nation with limited job opportunities. Just $25 can change the life of someone like Hayat or Hana forever -- uplifting not only the borrower, but also their family and community. 

About the author

Emily Wakefield

A native of southern California, Emily is a recent graduate from Santa Clara University where she studied Economics and Spanish Studies. The highlight of her college experience was the semester she spent abroad in Granada, Spain. She knew she wanted to pursue a career in economic development after reading Half the Sky. Emily will be joining the Marketing and Communications team as a Blog and Social Media Intern and is especially excited to find new and creative ways to spread Kiva’s work to more people. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, listening to country music, and re-watching Friends episodes for the millionth time.