Friday, December 9, 2011

Please Welcome Kiva Guest Blogger, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, author of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana!

Kiva is excited to introduce Guest Blogger and Kiva Supporter, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. She is the author of the New York Times Best-Seller The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, a book which tells the incredible true story of a real-life heroine, a young Afghan entrepreneur whose business created jobs and hope for women in her neighborhood during the Taliban years. Gayle is a Contributing Editor-At-Large for Newsweek Magazine and The Daily Beast, reporting on economic and development issues with a focus on women; and the deputy director of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Women and Foreign Policy program. A former Fulbright scholar and Robert Bosch Foundation fellow, she serves on the board of the International Center for Research on Women.

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

We are delighted and honored to have Gayle write for our blog. To celebrate her contribution and the coming holiday season we are running a corresponding “Call for Comments”. As part of the “Call for Comments”, 25 people will be awarded a copy of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana! Please read on to learn more.

Written By Gayle Lemmon.

My inspiration comes from the entrepreneurs I write about. Whether in Afghanistan, Rwanda, Bosnia or the US, the entrepreneurs I meet share a tenacity to keep going no matter the obstacles because they have families counting on them and failure is impossible when there are loved ones to feed.

In a lot of ways these women remind me of the women I grew up with. My mother was a single mom who worked two jobs to give me every opportunity possible. We never talked about how little we had or how hard it was for her, because we just got on with the challenges and the adventures before us.

When I meet women entrepreneurs, their doggedness and perseverance to trudge through, around or over their challenges is what keeps me thinking that anything is possible. And inspires my conviction that more people should know about these unsung heroines and inspiring founders. So many people see women as victims to be pitied, rather than survivors to be respected. These job creators and changemakers prove them wrong.

I first went to Afghanistan in December 2005 and in the course of writing a story for the Financial Times I met Kamila, a young woman who had just turned down a job with the international community so that she could start a business consultancy to teach entrepreneurship skills to men and women around her country. She believed business was the key to Afghanistan's future, because it would sustain Afghanistan's economy long after the international community left and enable Afghans to support themselves. She also said that business was even more important for women because earning an income earned respect.

When I asked Kamila how she had learned all this, she said that this was actually her third business. Her first venture was a dressmaking business she started during the Taliban times to support her five brothers and sisters at home counting on her to provide. The living room workshop grew to employ more than 100 women, and at a time of economic desperation when women could not even be on the streets by themselves, these young women became breadwinners who created a lifeline for families all around their neighborhood.

This story became The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, a book I just wrote that celebrates these intrepid young women who created jobs and opportunity against all odds at a time of despair. And it became my inspiration. It is just one story that stands for so many entrepreneurs who are out there fighting for their business’s and their family's future with unstoppable determination. These entrepreneurs are rarely heard of, because they are too busy with their work to occupy the spotlight. And we don't count what we don't see. But they are there. And communities like help to bring them much-needed resources.

This holiday season it is my privilege to shine a spotlight on entrepreneurs who make sacrifices and take risks for the people they love - the businesswomen braving the odds and thinking big. Every day, Kiva is helping people invest in the dreams and abilities of women just like Kamila.

Kiva recommends pairing Gayle’s book and a Kiva Card as an uplifting holiday gift. What could be better than giving the gift of an inspiring story along with the means to act on that inspiration?

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon - Click Here to Buy Now!

Kiva Cards - Click Here to Buy Now!

We would also like to invite readers to participate in a “Call for Comments” for the chance to receive a copy of Gayle’s book. All you have to do is respond to the following question, “What is the most inspiring gift you have ever received?”. Authors of the top 25 answers will be awarded a copy of Gayle’s book! Click here to enter.

Thank you Gayle for your wonderful contribution to our blog! To read more of Gayle’s work follow @gaylelemmon on Twitter, or go to and

Inspiring Gift “Call for Comments” Terms and Conditions
By telling us “what is the most inspiring gift you have ever received,” registered users on can enter to qualify for one of 25 copies of Gayle Lemon’s book The Dressmaker of Khair Khana!
Terms and Conditions of the Inspiring Gift “Call for Comments” (the “Promotion”):
To be eligible to qualify for a copy of the book The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, all of the following rules must be satisfied by the participating entrant (the “Entrant”):
1) The Promotion begins at 12:01 am Pacific Time on Friday, December 9, 2011 and ends at 11:59 pm Pacific Time on Friday, December 16, 2011. Kiva’s computer clock will be the official timekeeper for the Promotion. All eligible submissions must be made within this time period.
2) Entrant must be a current, registered Kiva member who is in compliance with the Kiva Terms of Use.
3) Entrant must be at least 18 years old and a resident of the United States of America.
4) To be entered into the Promotion, Entrant must electronically submit a response to the question “What is the most inspiring gift you have ever received?” via the form at
5) Only one submission per Entrant is permitted.
Selection of Top Responses and Award of Books
1) A panel of Kiva staff (the “Panel”) will review the Entrants eligibility and the answers submitted and select the top 25 responses. Entrants who submit the top 25 responses qualify to receive a complimentary copy of the book The Dressmaker of Khair Khana.
2) All determinations with respect to eligibility to participate in the Promotion and judging under this Promotion shall be made solely by Kiva based on its internal systems and criteria. All Kiva determinations and decisions shall be final.
3) The Panel will judge submissions based on the following judging criteria (the “Judging Criteria”):
1. Inspirational nature
2. originality
3. appropriateness, and
4. whether the submission adheres to these terms and conditions.
4) Kiva will notify qualifying recipients of awarded books by email (to the email address on record with Kiva) by December 21, 2011. No substitution or exchange of the awarded book shall be permitted.
5) Kiva will use reasonable efforts to deliver awarded books to qualifying Entrants to the physical mailing address (no PO boxes) provided as part of the Entrants’ submission. Please understand, however, that Kiva is not able to guarantee that winning Entrants will receive their awarded books, whether due to impossibility or other reasons beyond Kiva’s reasonable control (for example, loss of the book by the shipper or incorrect delivery by the deliverer).
General Provisions:
1) By entering the Promotion, you as an Entrant fully and unconditionally agree to be bound by these terms and conditions.
2) By entering the Promotion, you as an Entrant agree to Kiva's use of your name and location (city, state or province, and country), and, if you have a public Kiva lender profile with a picture, your image, in our materials in connection with the Promotion.
3) Any individual user determined to have submitted more than one (1) response under this Promotion will be immediately disqualified from this Promotion without notice.
4) The Promotion is not valid where prohibited by law, and is subject to all applicable Federal, state, provincial, and local laws and regulations.
5) By participating in the Promotion, each Entrant agrees to release and hold harmless Kiva and its subsidiaries, affiliates, partners, representatives, agents, successors, assigns, employees, officers and directors, from any and all liability, for loss, harm, damage, injury, cost or expense whatsoever.
6) Except where prohibited, as a condition of participating in the Promotion, each entrant agrees that any and all disputes which cannot be resolved between the parties, claims and causes of action arising out of or connected with the Promotion, or any promotional credit provided, or the determination of qualifying credit recipients shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of court action, exclusively by arbitration pursuant to the commercial arbitration rules of the American Arbitration Association then effective. Further, in any such dispute, under no circumstances will an Entrant be permitted to obtain awards for, and hereby waives all rights to, claim punitive, incidental or consequential damages, or any other damages, including attorneys' fees, and Entrant further waives all rights to have damages multiplied or increased.
7) All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these terms and conditions, shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of the State of California, U.S.A., without giving effect to the conflict of laws rules thereof, and any matters or proceedings which are not subject to arbitration as set forth in these terms and conditions, shall take place in San Francisco, California.