When I was a young entrepreneur – trying to make some extra cash by mowing lawns and doing yard work – I got some invaluable business advice from a man named Mr. Wedow, “Don’t undersell yourself.”  (You can read more about that story here.)

It’s safe to say that morsel of advice had a big impact on me.  Sometimes all it takes is something small to change someone’s life.

You can take the same approach to investing.  Did you know that you can become a business investor through a platform called KivaKiva is a micro-funding platform that allows you to provide small loans to people trying to create a better life for themselves and their communities.  Many of these people live in impoverished communities and want a hand up, not a handout.  When you loan money, the recipient pledges to repay it within a certain time frame. 100% of every dollar you lend on Kiva goes to funding loans.

Here’s the coolest part: As you receive repayments, you can re-lend the money in your Kiva account.  So, by putting just $25 in your Kiva account, you can re-lend it over and over and help multiple people without ever contributing another dollar.

My family and I have made quite a few contributions through Kiva.  Here are some cool stats:

  • We’ve lent to people in 71 countries
  • We’ve made more than 1,159 loans
  • The recipients are part of 14 business sectors, including agriculture, manufacturing, and construction

While we’ve only deposited $6,842 of our own money, we’ve actually made $29,005 in loans by re-lending our repayments.

One of our recipients is Santos Del Carmen, who lives in El Salvador with her young child.  Santos is a cook who prepares and sells food and beverages.  The loans go toward the food supplies and products she needs for her business.

Another inspiring story features Jane from Kenya, who recently repaid her loan that went toward the purchase of farming equipment.  Jane was unsatisfied with just farming and wanted to ramp up her production, and the loan she received went toward seeds and fertilizers, which helped her grow hardier crops on a bigger scale.

It’s a great feeling to play a small part in someone’s efforts to better their lives through entrepreneurship.  Check out Kiva.org if you’re interested in loaning — not donating — to hard-working people around the world.