Helping people with loans and not donations

I don’t know about you but I like to help as many people as I can.  If possible then I do practical things to help like carry suitcases up the stairs on the London Underground or assisting the elderly or people with disabilities on and off buses.   I do that as many people don’t actually want to get their hands dirty, they maybe prefer to donate to charity or go to church/temple/synagogue/mosque and then forget to actually put their good teachings to use.

Also I have issues with corporate charity.  I’m aware that big charities help a lot of people that wouldn’t otherwise get assisted  but I’m fundamentally against high proportions of my donations going to fund advertising, office staff or even bribe officials in some poorer countries.  My money is too valuable to me to give to some local politician in Africa who may be in a poorer country than I but is individually richer than myself at the same time.

Also I don’t like the people who collect money on the streets.  I used to like them, when they were real volunteers.  These days they are high pressured salespeople and they get paid.  Maybe it’s just me, maybe it’s just a British thin but I don’t like that.  If they aren’t genuinely concerned about there causes, why should I care so much as to pay them.   I do donate to charities but I find ones that don’t advertise.  Anyone who sells adverts on TV, newspapers or has a team of people on the street, doesn’t need my help.

I do hate having to march past chuggers or charity huggers every time I walk down my local shopping street or in parts of London.  You can easily come across 6 or 7 people within a minutes walk, all highly intent on obsructing people and gaining donations.   I just want to walk along the street in peace and actually help real people physically right this minute or monetarily if I see someone who actually needs money.

Last year a friend of mine reminded me about Kiva Loans. This organisation lends money to people in areas of the world where people have no access to banks or are too poor to obtain normal loans.

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You can select who receives your loan and read up on their projects and over the months, you see them pay your loan back… then you can loan it out again if you like.

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You can select loans by people, countries, industries but the one thing they all have in common is that you help people who are guaranteed to actually trying to help themselves. 

My first loan went to a lady in Tajikistan, she needed $500 to start her business. I picked someone in a country and culture I knew and yet also a place where I knew it would be very hard for a woman to create her own business and that wasn’t in some high-profile location.  I donated just $25 but she is now up and running and I have got my money back. Or at least I did for about 3 minutes until I found a small shop owner in The Philippines who needs new equipment and more stock.

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If you want to help someone and have misgivings due to corruption in parts of the world or are against the increased corporate mentality of charities then lend straight to the people in need themselves with Kiva.  None of the donations are used in overheads or administration, Kiva actually requests for a bonus payment to cover these but you’re free to ignore this and just make your loan and be sure that it will get to someone who needs it and who you feel a connection with.

Also I like Kiva as it isn’t a donation, I will likely get the money back and I know there is a pretty good chance that the person who receives the money, has a plan and ambition and ability to help themselves which in turn will help their family and friends and wider community.  Sometimes I get the feeling that giving money to some causes is just like pouring money down the drain.  My heart might be more than happy to help out people physically but my wallet isn’t deep enough not to be careful with money when I’m using it to specifically help others.

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About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including a #1 seller, I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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