Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Maria Shriver on Kiva and US Loans

A few words from Maria Shriver....

"Some days you just wake up with a feeling. There’s no explaining it, you just know that this day will be different. Not sure how, but different.  In March of 2008, I had one of those days.   

I was in San Francisco that morning, looking through some notes for an event I had in the afternoon. The Women’s Conference was getting ready to launch WE Invest, one of our programs that works to empower women to become more financially secure – for themselves, their families and their communities.  As I was sitting there I thought about what we were doing and about how much I wanted the program to make a difference in the lives of not only the extraordinary women here in California, but for all women across the country.  The reports on the economic downturn were starting to take over the news and financial worries were creeping into everyday life for so many families. I decided right then and there to take a little road trip across town, to drop in on Kiva, an up and coming organization that was working hard to alleviate poverty in all parts of the developing world.  

If poverty exists everywhere – and it does – can’t we do something about it here, in our own back yard? I was on a mission!

I drove across town and climbed the stairs to the Kiva headquarters.  I think I may have surprised them a little, but after the initial shock wore off we gathered around their conference table for our very first meeting. My question was simple: if you can use the Kiva model of peer-to-peer online lending to help alleviate poverty in Nicaragua and Zambia, can’t we work together to figure out a way to make a difference for the thousands of struggling small businesses and entrepreneurs in the U.S. that just need someone to believe in them?  To give them a jump start? I knew that it wasn’t the same as other places – a $100 loan can’t really keep the doors open here in this economy – but surely we could figure this out.   

Our goal was simple. We believe that everyone deserves a chance to be successful and if we have the opportunity to help someone we should take it – and we will!  

I am so proud of the work that Kiva is doing and I am equally proud of The Women’s Conference for believing in this partnership and for supporting every aspect of it. The message of The Women’s Conference is that we all have the power to be Architects of Change in our own lives and in the lives of others.  This venture is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to team up as a community and empower women entrepreneurs here in California and across the United States to start and sustain a small business, become more financially independent, and ultimately reach their goals. By pooling our resources, even a loan as small as $25 can change a life.  Thanks to Kiva, being an Architect of Change has never been easier.

I invite all of you to join our new lending team (Maria Shriver's Lending Team) and to become involved in our Women’s Conference family.  Together, we can change a life."