(Note: This was written for Women’s Day 2016, but even though that is past, Kiva.org is still one of the best ways to make a huge impact and change a woman’s life! Just scroll below to hear about my lend Surayo!) 


Today, March 8 is International Women’s Day (so happens March is also Women’s History Month). Why do we care about this day? Why isn’t it International Men’s Day?

 

If you aren’t familiar with how severely women around the globe have been oppressed and have little to no opportunity to change their circumstances, check out these posts: The New FeminismInternational Women’s Day 2012Dangerous Countries to be Female or go to the International Women’s Day website for the most current stats. 

 

Tomorrow you’ll be seeing—and sharing— inspirational stories and motivational quotes everywhere. But here’s something easy you can actually do.

 

Kiva 1million

 

One Week… One Million Dollars… One Woman at a Time

 

Kiva.org/Her, which crowd-funds loans to help women build small businesses and lift their families out of poverty, has issued a challenge: Can we raise one million dollars in one week to support women around the world?

 

If that sounds like a big goal, don’t worry: you don’t have to be Bill Gates to play. The idea behind crowdfunding is that if we each chip in what we can—and it can be as little as 25 bucks, or the cost of a date-night at the movies—it adds up fast. Think Kickstarter that changes lives. (And by the way, Kiva’s been in the crowd-funding game for years longer than Kickstarter).

 

And, this is the best part. So many other awesome people around us have been chipping in all week already and we’ve already REACHED our million dollar goal! And, this is all being MATCHED this week (yep, 2x the amount is going towards these loans!). Even though we’ve reached one million, we aren’t just quitting. The need is still great and your intentionality in action–transforming you into a world changer–through opportunities like this is just as legit as reaching a goal. (Or you can help us reach Average Advocate’s crowdfunding Little Black Dress Project goal happening right now to help women by pitching in $10 here.)

 

What can you do to change a woman’s life?

 

In celebration of International Women’s Day, here’s a date-night or friends hangout idea for this week: Instead of spending that $25 on movie tickets, kick in for Kiva’s One Million in One Week campaign. Then throw a bag of popcorn in the microwave, snuggle under a cozy blanket, and turn on a Netflix—knowing you’ve helped a woman like Roberte build a business, support her kids and achieve her dreams.

 

Still not sure? It’s not a donation!

 

Your $25 is a loan at Kiva.org is not a donation like at most nonprofits. Since 98% of Kiva loans get paid back, chances are you’ll still get another shot at that movie later this year! Although we’re willing to bet that once you’ve experienced what it’s like to change someone’s life, you’ll want to relend that 25 bucks to support a new loan and keep the cycle going.

 

I myself have been relending $225 for years, over and over again, making that $200 go over $1125 to help women like Roberte–specifically 45 women like Surayo. I could take this money out and use it if I wanted. But I read the stories of each woman I’ve chosen, all 45 of them (join me tomorrow on Periscope @4:30PM PST to help me do this). And once I hear their stories, I want to lend ALL the money.  Here is an example:

 

Surayo’s Story

 

When I choose to lend to Surayo last year, I was drawn to her by the fact she was a single mom with a small child. I might have a completely false vision of what her divorce was like, but I’ve heard some pretty tough stories from her area of the world, and I concluded she was probably brave. I was impressed her father seemed somewhat supportive of her, and wanted him to see her taken care of. I knew I could lend her a hand and began praying she would find life and hope, regardless of her situation. This was my prompt:

Surayo’s Story

 

“Surayo is a nice, humble woman from the Shahrituz region. She is 38 and divorced from her husband. She has one two-year-old child. After the divorce, it was difficult for Surayo to earn money to care for her child. Then she decided to work in animal husbandry and has happily achieved success in this area. Her father supported her greatly, and now she has her own business and income.

Now Surayo wants to expand her business by purchasing a few calves and feed for them. But unfortunately she doesn’t have enough money for this. Therefore she is looking for a loan and hopes for your support.”

 

Suaryo, via Kiva.org, 3.07.16

Suaryo, via Kiva.org, 3.07.16

Awhile after I loaned to her, I received this:
Tajikistan. Surayo has purchased four heads of calved and increased the number of her livestock. She thanks you for your help. Posted by Nilufar Saidjonova from Shahrituz, Tajikistan, Dec 4, 2015

 

Surayo is almost 1/2 way through repaying her loan to me.

Pretty cool, huh?

 

Lend on Kiva.org As a Group

 

Another cool thing about Kiva.org is that their interface makes it possible to really keep track of who you are loaning to, where in the world, what sectors of society, etc… This is kinda fun. But to up in a notch, yes, you can let your friends see what you are doing on Kiva.

 

My husband and I like to look at each other’s profiles, or sometimes I take a sneak peak at who other people I am friends with are lending to. Not only is it fun to choose who to lend to as a group in a $25 loan, but as a group, you can actually take on that one person’s loan.

 

Now I’ve never done this, but I would love to either make my own team sometime (which is something else on Kiva.org!) that people can partner with me in, or have my friends go together with me on a loan for someone I am passionate about. Each of us on our own computers, each getting our $25 back someday–but in the meantime my whole book club knew we did something great for Surayo (or whoever it would be) together!

You Have Nothing To Lose

 

I love that you are barely taking a risk with Kiva (only 2% of loans are defaulted on), that it isn’t just a donation, that you can walk with the person you lend to, even pray for them, and it is one of the most effective ways to remedy extreme poverty and oppression for women. What do you have to lose?

 

Considering, give something up this week, don’t go on your movie date, and make a difference by joining Kiva here. Be sure to loan to an awesome woman in honor of International Women’s Day (sometimes I am picky, by only choosing start-ups, anti-poverty, with lower interest rates from lender I like, but I’ll talk about that another time).

 

If you like learning about ways you can get involved, like reusing your donation over at Kiva.org with a group of people, get the guide when you click the image below:

 


You can listen to the professionals talk about Kiva & share their stories in this movie below: 

 

Again, you can check out Kiva here and join me tomorrow (March 8th) at 4:30pm PST on Periscope (@AverageAdvocate) to help me choose who I will lend to on Kiva next.

 

If you want to help women through Average Advocate’s crowdfunding Little Black Dress Project right now instead on International Women’s Day, you can donate $10 here.

 

Have you ever done a microloan? If so, tell me who you lended to! Why did you choose them?

 

Kiva Women's day header

Hi! Let me introduce myself with my lovely cheesy fake smile. I’m Elisa Johnston and this is where I base online (in real life I’m usually in beautiful San Diego, CA).

I’m here to empower you,  an everyday, super busy, normal person who’s figuring out this adulting thing and who cares about stuff. I help you to be an influencer who makes a difference in the world. 

Stick around Average Advocate and together we will move past the overwhelm of life and the despair of global problems, find your purpose, and discover what your best role is to change the world is. 

I’m no magician. I just encourage and guide as I  write, coach, speak, consult and start-world-changing things to help us move forward.  

In case I sounded unapproachable, let me tell you a little bit about myself. Besides empowering this community, I spend most of my time attempting to live intentionally in my faith (I’m a Jesus person), in my home (the husband + raising my three kids + adult kid), in my relationships, and being creative and adventuring wherever and whenever I can. (Ya, I might live in beautiful San Diego, but I’m always itching to explore.)

Now it is your turn…  What’s your story?