How to Pay it Forward & Help Others Escape Poverty

Poverty sucks.

Every day, people around the world are struggling to survive.  The developed world has little understanding of what people go through in 3rd world countries just to try and make ends meet.

Local entrepreneurs work hard all day, every day to provide for their families and communities.  However, these entrepreneurs are often stuck and cannot grow their businesses due to lack of access to affordable capital.

I previously wrote about one of my experiences witnessing extreme poverty.  It isn’t possible to unsee what I saw.  But, there is hope. There is a way we can help these entrepreneurs lift themselves out of poverty and change the world for generations to come.

It starts with Kiva.

Pedro’s Story

The short illustrated video below is a story about Pedro and his coffee bean business in Bolivia.  It perfectly explains the problem that many entrepreneurs face around the world.  It also touches on how Kiva solves this problem.

We envision a world where all people hold the power to create opportunity for themselves and others. – Kiva

When Helping Hurts

At one point or another everyone has seen someone begging on the street for money.  Different people have different reactions. Some common reactions are:

  • Roll up the car windows, lock the doors, and don’t look left or right
  • Pretend you are on the phone, or you don’t see them
  • Roll down the car window and hand the person some money or food
  • Sit still and complain in your car about how that person needs to get a job
  • Park the car, and go visit with the person to see how you can help them get back on their feet

The last bullet is a vary rare reaction.  Its not very often that people take the time out of their “busy” day to see if they can help the other person find employment or a way for them to climb out of the situation they are facing.  But this reaction is the one that is often most needed. 

The same thing happens all around the world when people go on mission trips to 3rd world countries.  We travel to these very poor counties and give them money & clothes.  We show up for a week and setup Vacation Bible School.  All of this sounds great, but what happens we we leave? 

We arrive back home and feel really good about how we donated so much money and clothes, and put on a VBS program.  But, the entrepreneur at the town market who makes and sells clothes is now struggling to keep his business open.  The local churches can’t attract the kids to their version of Vacation Bible School because they don’t have the fancy books, markers, and decorations like the people who were here last week on the mission trip.

This is a reality in many parts of the world.  So, how can we help people, without hurting them?

Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett wrote a book titled, “When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself.” This book was a huge wake up call for me.  It completely changed my view of how to really help people.  It is a must read for anyone involved with charitable giving and community service.

Is Microfinance the Solution?

In many situations, entrepreneurs like Pedro mentioned earlier, already know how to run their business.  But, they face a setback or they are at maximum capacity and need to borrow money in order to get grow their business, or get things running again.

However, many lenders in these poorer countries will charge exorbitant interest rates that make it virtually impossible for borrowers to pay back and make a living at the same time.  This is a huge problem, and that is where Kiva comes in with a solution.

Kiva connects borrowers and lenders from all over the world to help alleviate poverty.  But its more than just lenders and borrowers exchanging money. Kiva creates the opportunity to play a special part in someone else’s story. At Kiva, loans aren’t just about money—they’re a way to create connection and relationships.  

The best part is that after the loan is repaid, you can turn around and re-lend the money to another entrepreneur.  Loaning to these entrepreneurs enables them to grow a business and create opportunity for themselves and others as well. This creates a ripple effect, and changes lives for generations.  

There are millions of Pedro’s out there who could change their families’ lives forever by accessing an affordable loan so they could grow their business.  Pay it forward and help them escape poverty with Kiva.