Hired by ForbesTraveler.com to review some of the most luxurious accommodations on Earth, and then inspired by a chance encounter in Dubai with the impoverished workers whose backbreaking jobs create such opulence, Bob Harris had an epiphany: He would turn his own good fortune into an effort to make lives like theirs better. Bob found his way to Kiva.org, the leading portal through which individuals make microloans all over the world: for as little as $25-50, businesses are financed and people are uplifted. Astonishingly, the repayment rate was nearly 99%, so he re-loaned the money to others over and over again.
After making hundreds of microloans online, Bob wanted to see the results first-hand, and in The International Bank of Bob he travels from Peru and Bosnia to Rwanda and Cambodia, introducing us to some of the most inspiring and enterprising people we've ever met, while illuminating day-to-day life-political and emotional-in much of the world that Americans never see. Told with humor and compassion, The International Bank of Bob brings the world to our doorstep, and makes clear that each of us can, actually, make it better.
The International Bank of Bob
Mohammed is a bicycle and motorcycle repairman, slight of build, shy, almost apologetic in his body language. As he first welcomes me, I am sure that he was one of the smaller kids where he grew up, and he probably still feels it sometimes.
As a forty-two-year-old adult, Mohammed now labors for eleven hours per day, six days a week, in a space smaller than many American kitchens. Mohammed's work area is crammed floor- to-ceiling with tires, wheels, cogs, chains, motor blocks, and assorted metal bits, but there's an order to the crammery, everything in its place. You can see right away that
Mohammed doesn't waste time here. He works.
When our conversation concludes, I turn around from Mohammed's garage, facing a half-dozen young men in this working- class part of town.
They are staring at me and speaking to each other in a language I don't understand.
One of them is making a fist.
When I was a boy ...
Bob Harris educates, amuses, and introduces readers to people we're honored to know, all while explaining the sometimes complex workings of micro-finance in a lively and lucid way.
(Reviewed by Jo Perry).
Full Review (1018 words).
Founded in 2005, Kiva.org is a non-profit that uses the Internet and a global network of micro-finance institutions to allow people to make loans that will help alleviate poverty and create financial independence. Loans can be as small as $25. Once a loan is made, the lender receives updates. As the loan is repaid, the money is credited to the lender's account and is ready to be used again for another loan.
Both lenders and borrowers have profiles on the Kiva.org site. Lenders learn about the people who receive their loans—who they are, where they live, their families, and their plans for using the borrowed funds. Lenders can choose among categories such as housing, "green" or transportation, can choose by country or gender, or...
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