At Smart Payroll, we believe in helping people to build bigger, brighter futures for themselves and for their families.
It’s a noble thought, but we must always find ways to translate our thoughts into genuine action. For our latest initiative, we looked at various community aid channels and eventually discovered a fantastic organisation called Kiva.org.
We love Kiva. We’d really like to encourage you to get involved, too.
How can you grow a business on $25?
Kiva is a non-profit organisation that provides microloans to people who want to start or grow a business, go to school, access clean energy or realise their potential in life.
Take Lindiwe, a 22-year-old who lives in rural Zimbabwe. She makes homemade juice and soda and sells it to customers at her shop. Each bottle has a hand-glued label that reads ‘Lee Juice,’ inspired by her nickname. She has big plans to make it a household name.
And she’s been helped by people just like you, through microloans at Kiva.org.
Here’s how it works.
A borrower applies for a loan. The loan then goes through an underwriting and approval process where some loans are facilitated by local nonprofits or lending institutions, while direct loans are approved through “social underwriting”. Trustworthiness is determined by friends and family lending a portion of the loan request, or by a Kiva approved Trustee vouching for the borrower.
The loan is then posted to Kiva asking for your support.
Each borrower tells their story and they decide which stories are most deserving. This is not a charity, it’s about growing a sustainable resource that also provides dignity, mutual benefit and respect.
Microloans can be preferable to direct charity donations as the loaned money gets returned for future good causes. There are high repayment rates! Kiva performs due diligence and ongoing monitoring.
The microloan story
Our staff at Smart Payroll choose who they want to support. We print out twenty of the borrowers’ stories and leave them in the staff room for staff to read and consider. We then send out an email asking everyone to vote on the people they most want Smart Payroll to help.
Here are a few of the people we’ve funded so far.
Kefah is a 35-year-old divorced woman living with her son in a village near Jenin, West Bank. She works as a tailor where she earns a low income, but she wanted to start her own sewing business. This will increase her income and enhance her children’s living standards.
Leena is a 37-year-old refugee woman who lives with her family in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip.
Her husband operates a rickshaw, transporting goods and products to markets. It’s the only source of income for the family, but his rickshaw has broken down and needs repairs. She requested a loan to make repairs on her husband’s rickshaw to get it working again. The couple uses the income to provide for their two children.
Kudzayi is a 28-year-old entrepreneur who is a single mother and lives with her son in Kwekwe District, Zimbabwe. She runs a restaurant. With her first Kiva loan, Kudzayi purchased cooking utensils and a refrigerator. She used the profits she earned to pay the school fees for her son and supported other vulnerable children in her community. Kudzayi is now requesting a second loan to diversify her business by starting a pig business. Kudzayi will repay the ‘social interest’ on her second loan by volunteering 2.5 hours per week as to provide counselling and support to students in need.
A rewarding experience for staff
Staff at Smart Payroll have found Kiva to be immensely rewarding. We’ve found it to be a great team building exercise, it has helped build staff morale and everyone derives satisfaction having contributed to worthy causes.
Nikki Partridge, who organised the Kiva initiative at SmartPayroll, said they chose Kiva over other options because Smart Payroll has similar values around business sustainability and community contribution. Nikki says that once you start reading the borrower’s stories, it’s hard to choose as they’re all so deserving. Just seeing the variety of stories is very inspiring as the ideas and perseverance of the borrowers despite their conditions is incredible.
Nikki’s advice to other businesses who want to get started is to jump in. “It is very easy to set up a Kiva account and to get lending. In time, it’s also nice to let the team know the outcomes of the Kiva lending.”
Staff members Shaniqua Iorangi & Leanne Andersen have a few favourite stories, too. Shaniqua recalls a young boy who wanted to be a doctor and was in his first year of University, he was doing so well and she thought it would be such a shame if he had to stop his studies because he wasn’t able to afford University fees
Leanne’s favourite was a lady who wanted a loan to add an extra classroom for kids to learn. Both Leanne and Shaniqua recommend that other workplaces get involved with Kiva as it is rewarding knowing you have helped other people.
If your organisation is looking for a worthwhile and personally rewarding thing to do, then we encourage you to consider Kiva.org. The relationship has worked very well for Smart Payroll.
How to get involved
It’s very easy to get started.
Sign up at Kiva.org. Select from a wide range of stories and narrow them down to those your staff feel most deserving. You can then watch their progress and be assured that 100% of every dollar you lend on Kiva goes to funding loans. Kiva covers costs primarily through optional donations, as well as through support from grants and sponsors.
Microloans have shown to be a very successful way of helping people to help themselves. Being able to give over and over again allows your impact to be much greater, and doing it with your team can be a rewarding experience for all involved.