I am always surprised by the power of online social media and networks. Facebook, Twitter, blogging sites like this WordPress one, dating sites like eHarmony, sharing sites like Freecycle or rating ones like Yelp all command huge followings and powerful networks. The world becomes smaller thanks to sites like Facebook—it is sites like these that allow me to keep in touch with friends while I serve abroad as a Kiva Fellow. Information gathering and sharing from news, to politics, to microfinance happenings or even the latest costume that friends have caused their pets to suffer through becomes easier thanks to Twitter and the ever expanding blogging community. You can connect to date, to recycle, to rate. You make connections with old friends and new ones who share common interests.
Beyond their obvious functions of wall posts or retweets, social networks provide the human spirit with something much deeper: a sense of interconnectedness or community. This community at Kiva is founded in something much deeper than a desire to make new friends (though Kiva´s lending teams like Asociación Arariwas make that pretty easy too!)
Much like a Facebook profile, Kiva allows lenders (you) to “friend” whatever borrowers draw your attention with the intention of alleviating global poverty through a simple loan. Or like eHarmony, Kiva makes it easy for you to make a special connection with any particular borrower: if you work in agriculture like my dad, then these connections are sought with farmers around the globe. Much like Freecycle, you are able to loan (or share) small amounts of the money that just sit in your bank account for a limited time with these new friends as they expand their businesses and repay you over the course of the loan. Kiva then will “tweet” updates of the loans you made to your new friends around the world through journals. And if you really “Digg” Kiva, you can use all of the above networks to get your friends to do the same just like you would for that great Taco stand on Yelp!
Kiva is much more than just a non-profit. It is a powerful community connecting you and me to people, to friends around the world. To friends where a single loan can be the gateway to a better life.
Eric Burdullis is a Kiva Fellow serving in Cuzco, Peru with Asociación Arariwa. He enjoys strolls through downtown Cuzco and coffee on the plaza. Although he enjoys taking in the sun at 12,000ft on La Avenida de Sol, he dreams of digging his toes in the sand when nights get cold.