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Emily Starbuck Crone

Emily's list: Microlending edition

I recently began participating in microlending through Kiva. Here's the concept: low-income people in poor countries can't usually access traditional bank loans. Either there aren't any, or they don't have enough credit to qualify. This stifles entrepreneurs and artisans in small communities who want to grow their businesses. Enter Kiva, a nonprofit that facilitates microloans from individuals or groups.Microlending edition

Here's the beautiful thing -- you are loaning money in small amounts (as low as $25) to someone who truly needs it, and you will be repaid. The repayments may be just $1.50 a month for over a year, but the money will return to you. Then you can reinvest it in someone else or withdraw it. According to Kiva, 98.98 percent of the loans are repaid. Since launching in 2005, Kiva has facilitated more than $409 million in loans from nearly 900,000 different lenders. It also has hundreds of field partners and volunteers around the world who verify that the people who request loans are legitimate.

I recently gave out a few $25 loans on Kiva. You get to pick the individuals or groups you want to help. You can see their photos and read their stories. They are usually artisans or shopkeepers who need new supplies. The loans give them capital to grow their business. I recently gave $25 to Montaha, a woman in Jordan who started a beauty salon inside of her house and is now trying to open her own shop. I also gave a loan to a group of women in Costa Rica who work on a farm and needed more livestock. I also helped a man named Wilfred in Kenya who needed more supplies for his barber shop. After returning from Costa Rica and seeing some of the poverty there, I went on Kiva and made a loan to another Costa Rican woman to help her open her own cafe.

It is amazing to me that we can help someone in another country change their life and grow their business for only $25 at a time. I can't imagine what it would be like to live where I couldn't qualify for a bank account or not be considered for a loan of any kind, even a credit card. I find it exciting to help entrepreneurial individuals in impoverished countries who don't have access to banks and credit like we do. Have you ever participated in microlending before? If you want to try it, use this sign-up link, and we'll both get an extra $25 to loan.

Please read on to learn about my favorite personal finance blog posts from the past week, all of which have excellent money tips and tricks!

1. One Frugal Girl explains why sharing financial responsibility equally is what works best for her and her husband.

2. Money Under 30 interviews a dating expert to show how to date online without spending much money.

3. Generation X Finance lists five things you shouldn't have to pay for, including credit card late fees and debit card ATM fees.

4. Making DIY crafts is all the rage, but is it worth spending the time making it on your own? My Personal Finance Journey shares five reasons why DIY can backfire.

5. Now that she's a mom, Little Miss Moneybags explains what financial lessons and legacies she wants to pass on to her daughter.

6. Financial Highway outlines the three main options you have for dealing with severe debt: bankruptcy, credit counseling and debt settlement.

7. Girl Meets Debt presents her new debt manifesto that describes why she doesn't let her finances define her.

8. Out of Your Rut reveals 10 financial mistakes you should be sure to avoid, such as living in perpetual debt or not having a savings cushion.

9. Cash Money Life discusses the connection that has been found between money and happiness, and the results may surprise you!

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