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‘It never occurred to me how little money it would take to make a difference’

Meet Alexia and learn how this Kiva lender is supporting women around the world, one loan at a time.

If Kiva lender Alexia had it her way, she’d give away money for a living. 

“I’ve always said God made a mistake, I was born to be a full-time philanthropist,” laughs the Charleston, S.C.-based attorney.

While not everyone gets to be Mackenzie Scott, Alexia has been assuaging her charitable impulses for over a decade as part of the Savannah Widow’s Society, a historic organization that distributes microgrants to women in her community. A friend who sits on the board with her introduced her to Kiva, and when she saw the impact it could make, she began making small loans to Kiva borrowers almost immediately.

“I jumped at the chance to be more global in my efforts,” she says. “It never occurred to me how little money it would take to make a difference in the lives of women outside the U.S.—what I spend on coffee monthly could change their lives. I feel an obligation to drink less coffee and do more good if I can.”

Applying the filter that allows lenders to fund issues and attributes that matter to them the most, Alexia has now chosen to lend exclusively to women. 

“Women make things—we create life, we create meals, we create homes, we create opportunities for change,” she explains.  

“Across cultures, that is the unique quality of people who identify as women. When you give money to a woman, she in turn helps her children, her elderly parents, her faith community, she helps the neighbor next door.”

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 “It never occurred to me how little money it would take to make a difference in the lives of women outside the U.S.—what I spend on coffee monthly could change their lives.”

Alexia once depended on the kindness of strangers herself

Alexia’s motivation for helping other women stems from her own tragic experiences. In 2004, her husband was killed in a drunk driving accident, leaving her grief-stricken and without means to support the family.

“I had four children, no assets, $500 in the bank, and no job,” she recalls. “I have been in the position where I had to choose between my medication and whether I could feed my children on a particular day. I know what that feels like.” 

The young widow turned to her faith community for support, accepting help with bills and food until she could recover from the devastation. She slowly began to build back her life, launching a consulting business, Lawyer Rescue, that utilized her law degree but allowed her the flexibility to raise her children as a single mother. 

“I feel extremely privileged and blessed that I have the education and the ability to solve some of my own problems,” says Alexia. 

“I am aware that there are many women across the world who don't have those opportunities, so where I can find ways to help other women overcome those obstacles, I feel obligated because certainly I wouldn't be where I am and my children would not be where they are but for the kindness of strangers.”

Paying it forward with loans to women

“I have been in the position where I had to choose between my medication and whether I could feed my children on a particular day. I know what that feels like.”

As a widow who raised four children on her own, Alexia looks for Kiva borrowers who she feels will make a difference in their families and communities with their loans.

“I like exploring the site and reading about their lives,” she says.

“I’m drawn to stories of women who endure unimaginable hardships and still desire to improve their own lives and the lives of those around them.”

One borrower who caught her interest is Clarita, a pig farmer in the Philippines. Clarita has been in business more than 25 years and has borrowed and repaid 14 Kiva loans—enabling her to grow her venture and put her kids through college, a goal that also resonated with Alexia, who has one more child left in high school.

Another borrower to whom Alexia contributed is Charise, a licensed professional counselor in Arizona providing mental health services in her rural community. A Kiva loan has allowed the clinician to open a private practice and offer counseling on a sliding scale, an effort that spoke to an issue close to Alexia’s heart. 

“Given the insanity of gun violence in the US, I am particularly interested in projects that expand mental health care and that support minority populations who are so often the victims of hate crime and gun violence,” says Alexia. 

“As a Charlestonian, I remain deeply grieved by the white supremacist shooting at Mother Emanuel AME church and continue to want to support the victims of hate-based violence.”

Alexia had not initially been interested in making loans to American borrowers, figuring that her dollars would go further in a less developed country. But she was curious who applied for Kiva loans in the United States, so she clicked on Charise’s profile. 

“I had no intention of loaning someone in the U.S. money, but I felt very compelled by her story,” she explains. “She's a woman of color and she is serving a traditionally underserved population in an area that has few mental health professionals, expanding care to people. I felt like that was really important.” 

Browse loans to people in the U.S.

Repaid, and repeat

Alexia enjoys the Kiva interface and checks her account regularly to see how borrowers she loaned to are repaying their Kiva loans. She’s fascinated by how the same small amount of money can be recycled again and again to fund new borrowers.

“It’s dynamic money, it's constantly moving, and I find that really interesting, because it kind of goes against what we were kind of all told about money, right?” she muses.

“Capitalists in the first world are very good at aggregating other people's money to benefit themselves. I think Kiva is very good at aggregating other people's money to help those who need it most.”

Once the four loans she has open are repaid, Alexia plans to plug her money right back into Kiva and continue to lend to women around the world, perhaps in the U.S. again. She has two wishes for further lending: She would like to be able to filter for single women because she knows they are more likely to be disadvantaged when it comes to economic opportunities, especially in certain cultures. She also hopes her borrowers will post updates about how the loans have helped them, their families and communities. 

“When I make a loan to a woman, I know it’s going to have a ripple effect,” she says.

“Plus, I’m just dying to know how Clarita’s pigs are doing!” 

In the meantime, the attorney has realized that you don’t have to have a trust fund to be a philanthropist.

“Philanthropy means a love of humans, of other people,” says Alexia.  “I'm not interested in the acquisition of wealth; I'm interested in doing what I can with what I have—and helping other women who are doing more with what they have than anyone could expect.”

Its lenders like Alexia who make Kiva possible. With as little as $25, anyone can be a philanthropist—and make an impact on someone’s life. What kind of borrower speaks to you?

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About the author

Jessica Leigh Lebos

Jessica Leigh Lebos is Kiva's Senior Storyteller and an award-winning writer based in Savannah, Georgia, USA. Covering social justice, cultural equity, sustainable growth, financial literacy, and always celebrating others' success, she is thrilled to help share Kiva's mission—and the stories of the people it connects.