Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A lender's story: Mother and daughter connect through Kiva and travel

This post is by Mary Lynn Halland, a long-time Kiva lender who took her daughter to Nepal to see the power of microfinance firsthand. This post is part of a May guest series honoring mothers, women and the lenders who help them build brighter futures.

"Everyone can help." That was the life lesson I was hoping to impart to my daughter when we joined Kiva in 2007.

Even better, Kiva lets you help other people without giving them anything -- just lending them a few dollars. Plus, she could help girls her age by lending money to their mothers to start and grow their own businesses. That really got her attention. What young girl doesn't want to help other girls her age?

Here's how I explained it to my then nine-year-old daughter: She could either take $25 of her savings and buy five mocha frappuccino drinks at Starbucks now --  or -- she could lend the $25 to a woman through Kiva. After the borrower paid her back (assuming she did), she could then buy herself five mocha frappuccino drinks. Either way, she was going to get to indulge in her favorite beverage. But, if she could wait a few months, she'd be helping a mother grow her business and better support her family.

When she realized she wouldn't have to give anything up (and, let's face it, she was still going to have her favorite drink in the meantime anyway), my daughter was very happy to help a mother. She felt even better when she realized that girls like her could benefit.

A few years prior to this discussion, our family started sponsoring the education of two girls in Nepal through a nonprofit called ANSWER Nepal. One reason we chose this particular organization was that we could visit our "daughters" in Nepal.

Knowing that someday we'd visit the country, we used Kiva's auto-lending feature to continue funding loans to Nepalese women. We finally made our trip this past March, and met our two girls (pictured above to the right -- one of their mothers is on the left). 

We also met the Kiva Fellow stationed in Nepal, a Nepalese-American named Abhinab Basnyat. At the time, he was doing a wonderful job working with the local microfinance institution, and was very enthusiastic about working with Kiva to improve the lives of his fellow Nepalis -- and bring on a new partner in the country to provide loans to even more people.

Unfortunately, due to our travel itinerary, we were unable to meet any of our Nepalese borrowers. But my daughter was able to see the types of businesses Kiva was funding throughout the country. She could see with her own eyes how hard these entrepreneurs work, and could imagine how just a little bit of help could really make a difference in their lives.

We also sponsor the college education of a woman in Uganda. Naturally, we've also been making Kiva loans to Ugandans throughout the years. I'm not sure we'll ever go to Uganda to visit our "daughter" there, but if we do, we'll have an even more enriching experience connecting with Kiva on the ground in there too.

We promised our two "daughters" in Nepal that we would return to celebrate their graduation from college. In the meantime, we'll keep lending to Nepalese women, and hope that we can meet some of our "Kiva sisters" on our next trip. We are grateful to Kiva for giving us this opportunity to help other women and their daughters around the world.

Read about a borrower's experience with micro-lending and motherhood in our last guest post by Efia Crandon. Send questions or comments to We'd love to hear from you.