I recently travelled on two different study abroad programs to France and Italy, my first trips outside the United States. I have never been to a developing country, but I am currently in the process of applying for an alternative spring break trip to Belize where I will be involved in building farm structures for cacao farmers. I have been to the big, bustling cities of Paris and Rome, but now I want to be involved in a program that is not about study or outside travel. Instead, this endeavor is about gaining a true global perspective of what it is like to make a living in a country without government assistance for small business owners.
I was inspired to research the Belize program from a class I am currently taking called World Population and Food Prospects. No, it is not a culinary class. Our focus is on world hunger issues, and the effects of low soil quality in areas of the world that are dry, and lacking the nutrients needed to grow nutritious crops. In a developing economy where you must grow your own food and use it as part of trade for other goods, it is impossible for every citizen to have enough food and water to live on. Since the economy cannot grow without trade, the government has no capital to invest in small business ventures.
Having no access to credit and no market to provide for are only two out of a long list of reasons why developing countries cannot rapidly industrialize. Lack of education and technology, along with cultural beliefs against women empowerment, also stand in the way. However, citizens of these countries still try to make a living despite all the odds against them.
So, what does this have to do with WolfBridge Financial’s outreach to the global community?
Our interest in globalization and worldly perspectives, along with a passion for reaching out to others, inspired me to pitch a proposal to Mike that involved loaning small sums of money to small business owners in developing countries. We are able to do this through the website, www.kiva.org, strongly supported and often publicized by former president Bill Clinton.
Kiva acts as a middleman between loaners (individuals and groups contributing small loans) and Field Partners, microcredit institutions in developing countries that help small farmers, storeowners, or service providers develop a business plan and fund their needs. Field Partners provide pictures of the owner and their families, their personal and business background, statistics about their home country, and information regarding their institution to Kiva loaners. As the borrowers begin earning revenue, they start repaying the loans, which distribute back to the loaners. The minimum loan amount a Kiva member can provide to a single borrower is $25.
It is important to note that Kiva loaners do not receive interest upon repayment. This is not in any way a profitable endeavor, but rather a global outreach project. The microcredit system has proved extremely effective, in that 98% of loans have been paid back in full. If another credit system exists with anywhere near this high repayment success rate, please share.
So, I pitched a proposal to Mike, asking if we could start a Kiva account with $100, make small loans to global businesses, and blog about it. I wanted to blog about these loans so that our present and prospective clients would be proud to be a part of an organization that recognizes areas of the world where opportunities are not as bountiful; where support for proprietorships is not as accessible; where women are not as highly regarded as entrepreneurs. From our office in Apex, NC, WolfBridge Financial is going to make a difference in numerous lives and families around the world. We are going to focus on loaning to groups of women who run agricultural businesses. We want to enable women’s empowerment in developing countries so that they can provide food and water for their children and encourage them to stay in school. This will help alleviate poverty-induced marriages, pregnancies, HIV/AIDS contractions, and human trafficking, sadly often seen among young girls who are forced to work instead of receive an education in a safe institution.
Please follow us through this blog and spread the word to others in your neighborhood. We are proud to be a member of the Kiva community and hope you will recognize and praise our passion to support small businesses all over the world.