I happened across Kiva.org quite some time ago, and immediately fell in love with the concept of micro-lending. Kiva has partnered up with many financing partners through the developing world. Through this network, regular folk, like you and I, can lend money to struggling entrepreneurs in third world countries, to help them get a leg up in their pursuits.

As an entrepreneur myself, I really value what Kiva is doing. Starting and running a business isn’t easy,  it takes a lot of guts to stand up and give it a go. After spending a month in Peru, it became clear that for many, scraping up a little bit of cash to start up a small sales business on the side of the road is one of the very few options available to many citizens in the developing world.

Times are tight for me right now, there is not much money in the chauffeurs, but there’s enough to lend a little to people who need it so much more. That’s the great thing about micro-lending, as a lender, you don’t have to invest a lot to make a difference. My humble loan of $25 combines with the loans of others to sum up to the relatively small amount the entrepreneur has requested.

Carmen Gabriela - Peruvian Clothing Saleswoman

Carmen Gabriela – Peruvian Clothing Saleswoman

Make no mistake about it, these are loans, not donations. The receiving entrepreneurs are expected to pay back the money they borrow on a pre-specified schedule. I lent $25 to Carmen Gabriela of Ayacucho, Peru who borrowed a total of $250 for her clothing sales business.  She has repaid half of that amount. Thus, half of the $25 I lent to her has been return to me. The money is waiting for me in my Kiva account. I can withdraw it, or lend it out to someone else. My plan is to lend it out again, and every time I get notification that $25 has been paid back to me, I will lend it out again, and lend out another $25. In this way I can help struggling entrepreneurs in the developing world in a growing perpetual cycle, which is pretty darn neat if you ask me!

On Febraury 3rd 2009, the  Kiva Developer API was released.  I was immediately informed through my various social networks, likely Twitter was the quickest, and a chord was struck within me… that wonderful feeling of inspiration took over. I knew had to write a WordPress Plugin to help promote Kiva.org. I am a programmer, but I had never written a WordPress Plugin before, and in the past had thought the idea of doing so was rather daunting. The funny thing about pure inspiration is that all of the nasty bits of a task, the hardness, the difficulties, the insecurities, all seem to fall away. The process of building the Kiva Loans WordPress Widget was seamless, I was blessed with the zen of being in the zone, and I had a plugin I was happy to submit to WordPress and Kiva within 2 days!

The widget I built goes on the sidebar of the blog. You can see it in action here on Urpi’s Dream, over there –> The widget is configurable via the ‘Widgets’ section in the Wordpress administration interface. The blogger can specify his/her Kiva username as well as the number of loans to show and the sizing of the images. The widget takes that information, asks the Kiva API for the user’s public loans, and randomly selects which loans to display on the sidebar. I am quite pleased with myself for successfully implementing random selection without replacement, which gives the widget a little pizazz by switching up the loans to display, and not show the same loan twice on the same page.

More recently, a representative from Kiva contacted me to inform me that my widget is doing well, and is hitting the Kiva API from many different blogs. This is great, but its also clear that the widget needs to be more efficient to help relieve some of the strain on the Kiva servers. Thus, version 2, available now, includes a cache in order to limit the amount of hits to the Kiva server to once per hour per blog using the widget. I was quite happy to accommodate Kiva’s request for help in making the widget more efficient, and am grateful for the opportunity to to help spread the word about Kiva.org.

If you are interested in using the Kiva.or WordPress widget, you can download it from the Kiva.org Loans Widget page in the WordPress Plugin space. You can sign up to be a micro-lender at Kiva.org.