In the summer of 2009, I spent a few weeks in the small East African nation of Rwanda. I was there as a student as well as an observer, one who could testify to others about conditions in Rwanda today. Like in any country, various standards of living could be found, from upper-class mansions to poverty-stricken slums. However, never before had I seen these extremes exist so closely together.
More often than not, poverty is the result of circumstances difficult to change. Although people can be very resourceful in making the best of what they have, the trap of poverty is difficult to escape. On numerous occasions in Rwanda I met a young person with the desire and intellect to attend school. Yet he or she simply did not have the resources to pay for it. Alongside poverty, tremendous amounts of potential exist. This potential can and must be harnessed.
Kiva presents a novel lens through which to view development. Simply contemplating the concept of “world poverty” can be discouraging and overwhelming. However, Kiva addresses this by allowing us to connect with others on an individual level. A loan through Kiva is an investment, in a business and an individual. It can provide the small push someone needs to make use of available resources for their business to become self-sufficient. Investment in a business translates into investment in other areas of life, including the opportunity to educate one’s children.
My trip to Rwanda made it clear that poverty is not the result of an individual’s unwise choices; it is the result of larger circumstances which can be changed. Loans provide someone the chance to overcome these conditions. During my brief time in Kenya as a Kiva Fellow, I have seen the gradual, yet fundamental, change which can occur as a result of microcredit. Through financing a loan on Kiva, we can help to wear away at the roots of poverty with effects that will be passed on to future generations.
To provide an entrepreneur with the financial foundation needed for their business to expand, take the chance to make a Kiva loan today.
Or, learn more about becoming a Kiva Fellow.
Jenny Coronel is a roaming Kiva Fellow based in Nairobi, Kenya, where she is attempting to pick up a bit of Swahili.