Microloans in action
At Language Connect, we work with translators and interpreters from all countries in the world, every day. The internet makes it easier to conduct business without borders and this in turn, is driving demand for language translations for communication. We have just signed up to the Kiva initiative for charitable giving to small businesses in the developing world, donating a small amount of money to help fund named individuals to finance their start-ups. In a similar way that the internet has revolutionised communications and language, micro-loaning, as it is called, might be indicative of the way that the internet will change consumer finance in future.
Our first Kiva loans
There are so many deserving individuals on the Kiva site that it was difficult to decide who to choose! We decided that the best thing to do was to hold a vote, with all of the staff in our office sifting through the different life stories to pick the one that interested them the most.
And the winner was… Street Vendor José Roberto Mora Arana! This 34 year old is hoping to grow his small clothing sales business in León which he has managed for 5 years.
León is a province on the edge of the Maribios Volcano Range in Nicaragua. The area is an eclectic mix of calm Pacific beaches, boiling hot springs, mud holes, and a chain of some of the youngest volcanoes in Central America. As one of the worst hit areas of Hurricane Mitch in 1998 this already poverty stricken province saw a mass influx of refugees to the colonial capital, (León) fleeing their failed cotton crops, a former major source of income; and disabling an already weak infrastructure.
One of our team, Maggie Little, visited Nicaragua a few years after Hurricane Mitch devastated the country. “The experience was a real life lesson for me. The capital city, Managua, has only a small handful of buildings over two stories high, and people prefer to live out in the open because of the threat of earthquakes. There is a noticeable shortage of employment – veterans and beggars on the streets everywhere, and thousands of abandoned and malnourished children live on the streets”.
So poverty, unemployment, overcrowding and malnutrition are all too common in León; it cannot be easy for José to support his family. Jose plans to use the loan to invest in more shirts, skirts, trousers and undergarments, and then sell them with the help of his wife to make them a better life- one in which he can spend more time with his children and finally afford some home improvements.
You can find out more about José here: http://www.kiva.org/lend/241597
We also made a loan to Noel Pandero, who runs a printing business in Gata Daku, a village in the Philippines.
High population growth, income inequality– the poorest 20% of the population account for only 5% of total consumption– the inability of the government to provide basic services in rural areas, and the vulnerability of farming communities to natural disaster all contribute to the difficulties of life in the Philippines. 38 year old Noel has made a living for the last ten years providing photocopying services to local community members. He too dreams of improving the living conditions of his family.
You can read about Noel here: http://www.kiva.org/lend/242784
Here in the UK, our society has been transformed by the arrival of several generations of economic migrants who have entered the country in order to build a better life for themselves. Life for those who remain at home remains a real struggle. The Kiva microloans are an admirable initiative that addresses the need for small entrepreneurs to build a life for themselves, their families and to provide employment.
Let’s wish both of these entrepreneurs’ every success- we’re keeping our fingers crossed that everything works out well for José and Noel!
Why don’t you give it a go too?
You can take a look at the Kiva website here: http://www.kiva.org
Check out our managers’ profiles on the management page to track who we are supporting, by clicking on the Kiva buttons.
Visit to SOS Children’s Village León – Nicaragua: http://www.jamerboi.com.ar/engcronica26.html
Australian Government Aid: http://www.ausaid.gov.au/country/country.cfm?CountryID=31
Kiva website- http://www.kiva.org/about/microfinance