Kiva – Me and Bill, Giving a Part of a Buffalo for Christmas

December 17th, 2009

I think we may have been watching an episode of The Office online via Hulu when suddenly the large furry head of Bill Clinton began to speak to us from the computer and the world came to a stand still.  The ad caught my attention because one – Bill Clinton and two – large furry head and three – the organization which Bill was talking about and four – is it okay if I call him Bill?  And can I just say that I am not a Bill Clinton groupie nor am I a Bill Clinton non-groupie.  I am pretty much a Bill Clinton neutral groupie which means that I can look at the man without any type of emotional surge whatsoever.  Well… except for the emotion of ‘question mark’ meaning I respond to him talking to me from my computer with a sort of ‘what the heck is going on?’   And as a result, when he appeared on my computer, I focused with a strange intensity on what he was saying.  I am not used to seeing him around much anymore plus the whole former world leader thing.  As a result,  I eventually made a loan to a woman named Phea Nop in Cambodia so that she could buy a buffalo to breed  and I am not even making that last part up.  

The organization of which I speak (and of which former President Bill Clinton speaks) is called Kiva.   Perhaps you have heard of it?  Well, I had not heard of it and after reading a few articles and watching a few PBS videos about Kiva, I thought what the heck?  And I threw my hat in the ring as well.  Basically Kiva exists to make loans to a group that Kiva terms ‘the working poor’ or ‘low income entrepeneurs’ across the globe which enable these people to start and grow small businesses. Traditionally, these loans would be impossible for people to get in their own countries due to exorbitant interest rates that can be as high as 300%.  Rarely do these emerging entrepreneurs have much collateral with which to qualify for a loan nor do they feel that they can risk losing what little they may have.  Kiva levels the playing field by providing affordable loans without the terrifying risk.  Kiva loans start as small as $25.00 and more than 98% of the loans that Kiva makes are re-paid in full within six to twelve months.  The loans are generally used to buy small pieces of equipment, farm animals, grain, produce, or other basic materials to enable a business person from a poor country to take the next step in a small business endeavor.

When I visited Kiva’s site, I read through many different entrepreneur’s profiles until I found Phea Nop in Cambodia.  She struck a chord with me as she is not only hoping to buy a buffalo (and hello I just happen to hail from a home where the buffalo roam!) but Phea also sells flowers!  Yes!  She sells water lilies in a market and she also has – get this – FOUR KIDS!  It’s like she is my twin on the other side of the world!  Except that she also cultivates rice, is a widow and probably works harder in one day than I have in my entire life put together.  Oh well…. I still like the part about helping her out.  And I really like the part about getting paid back at which point I can choose to re-invest my money in someone else’s business or pay myself back via Pay Pal.  Kiva also offers gift certificates, which allow the recipient to choose their own entrepreneur and follow the subsequent progress.  



I am excited to see what happens with Phea and her buffalo.  I have a pretty good feeling about this woman since we have so much in common (har, har) and I have a great feeling about Kiva.  I see one side of the world shaking hands with the other side of the world.  I see people giving and sharing and dancing and singing and eating spicy rice balls flavored with the milk of a buffalo heifer.  (Okay, maybe not the buffalo heifer milk part as I really don’t think buffalo heifers are gonna let anyone milk them) but I think this is a great thing and I thought I would help Bill spread the word.   You know – ‘neutral groupie’ me and ‘former world leader’ Bill Clinton – side by side – just making the world a better place…

except my beard is not really quite that full.


  • I’ve had great fun catching up on your how to… posts!

    And now you mention KIVA! It’s a brilliant way of giving presents. I support two different women in Africa through them. I’m looking forward to dancing with them and eating spicy .. well, somethings…

  • I love Bill and I love KIVA. Thanks for reminding people. Also I love Heifer International!!

  • I would love to give a Kiva certificate at our family gift exchange. The gifts are supposed to be $15, so this means that when whoever got the certificate got their loan paid back, they would have not some crappy gift they didn’t want anyway but actual cash and $10 more. However, I know they just wouldn’t get it and, depending on who got it, they might be irritated or like I was trying to be all goody goody or even like they got ripped off. And THAT is why instead of a Kiva loan certificate I’ll be giving a jingle thong stuffed with 15 one dollar bills. Ugh. Can you tell I am not very fond of this dirty Santa game? That doesn’t mean I can’t do a Kiva loan myself. In fact, I think I will since I meant to do it months ago and, uh, as usual, forgot. I’m writing it on a post-it note right now. Where should I stick it so I don’t forget? My forehead? No, the computer monitor is probably the best spot.

  • I discovered KIVA a while back and I think it is an excellent way to help people. I have my loans rotating back and forth. It is nice to help someone start their business and they do pay it back so you can re-loan to someone else. Thanks for getting the word out for others.

  • Those pics of your non-groupie friend crack me up!! Good for you, and good for Phea Nop; I know she’ll do well since y’all are sort of related.

    Seriously, it’s a great organization, and thanks for the reminder!

  • Martha in Kansas:

    You are a font of great information. First a funny TV show. Then a cool book. Now this great organization. (my adjective ability is lacking this morning) Keep on keepin’ on (as they said in the era of that last picture)!

  • This would be a wonderful idea for my kids

  • M.R.:

    Except buffalo milk is common in Thailand and India. I’m pretty sure it is from water buffalos. And Italian buffalo mozzarella is great.

  • What? Huh? Hmmmm – I don’t know about water buffalos – but the kind of buffalos we have in Kansas – even though some ranchers keep herds of them – they are not really uh… milkable. Maybe Kansas ranchers just aren’t as tough as Cambodian widows.

  • I have heard of Kiva, and while I have not yet to this point contributed, it sounds like a wonderful organization. I do want to research it more, though, before I give. Thanks for the post.

  • Carol:

    We visited Cambodia, a desperately poor place with a tragic history, and I was impressed by the hard-working people. I took a picture of a woman and her water buffalo, which basically looked like a form of ox, as we know it. I think micro-financing such an enterprise is a wonderful idea, and would make a real impact on her life. Hope you get to hear more about her.

  • I think micro-loans rock. They don’t always succeed, but they often do, and are such a good idea! Go Rachel! You and Bill can change the world.

  • I am a fan of Kiva too!

    They also started giving some loans to small business owners in the US lately, I think.

    Wow, you & Bill looked really cute back then, Rechelle… :)

    • Thanks Clay Ball – it was hard to let him go.

  • Barb:

    Can’t read your blog today. I can’t look at Bill Clinton without emotion. He really bugs me. I can’t turn my head fast enough.


  • I love Kiva too! I was given a gift certificate last year for a Christmas gift. Not that I needed the loan – my sister gave me the gift certificate so I could pick someone to loan it to on Kiva. So cool. So far I have loaned it to 2 people, and watched them work their way up! It IS a great Christmas gift!