Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lender Profile: Young Lender Making a Difference at Kiva

Saloni with Kiva President, Premal Shah

Saloni Gupta is a high school student making a difference at Kiva. She loans only to women entrepreneurs in order to help women attain financial stability in developing countries. By using the profits from her own non-profit handicraft business, Cherish, and occasional birthday gifts, she has helped 62 women thus far in 22 countries. We recently reached out to Saloni to find out why she loans to Kiva entrepreneurs.

Why I loan only to women in poor countries:

A loan is not only money, but also an opportunity. By helping women with an entrepreneurial drive, I have helped them live out their dreams of financial independence and self-sufficiency. The synergetic combination of women and entrepreneurship can change Third World societies in unimaginable ways. Considering the social, economic, and political obstacles disadvantaged women have encountered throughout history, empowering women is necessary now more than ever in a world that is still ravaged by wars and populated by the impoverished. If you give a woman a fish, you feed her for a day. If you give her a loan, you give her a fishing pole, a stand at a local market, food for her family for life, and a perpetual boost for her nation’s economy. A woman is not only an anchor for her family, but also for humanity.

How I reduce the risk of loans being defaulted:

By understanding basic economics and the fundamentals of finance, I have learned how to make smart and small investments and how to disperse the risk of losing my money by funding several entrepreneurs. Favoring quantity over quality, I lend smaller amounts to many entrepreneurs rather than committing hundreds of dollars to a certain individual. By lending to entrepreneurs whose field partner risk rating is 4-5 stars, I spread the risk of losing money on a loan. By dispersing my loans geographically, I further reduce the risk of loans being defaulted because a country’s socioeconomic circumstances could dramatically change, affecting an entrepreneur’s repayment.

What I have learned in terms of economics, business, and humanitarianism:

By examining business plans, evaluating repayment terms, and judging the risk of a loan, I have learned about making smart investments with humanitarian intentions. I discuss this learning as well as issues such as recession and poverty in my blog, Miss Economist. The bigger lesson I have learned is the importance of philanthropy. By helping those in less fortunate circumstances, I have realized how empowering women can change the world. I greatly admire Dr. Muhammad Yunus and Kiva for paving a pathway to humanitarianism that is accessible to students like me!

My next steps:

Now that I have made 62 loans, I aim to not only continue funding more businesswomen but also to communicate the benefits of microlending to the youth and women of the world! By promoting philanthropy and humanitarianism, I will spread the message of microlending and empower women. I would love to be involved with Kiva High School to help other high school students achieve a similar dream.

A huge thank you goes out to Saloni for her commitment to serving those in need! We wish her the best of luck in her studies and believe she will continue to make a difference in the world.