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International Women's Day

Today, as the title suggests, is International Women's Day. You'd probably expect me to be focusing on an Etsy shop run by a woman, but if we're honest then I think it's fair to say that 90% of Etsy consists of female shop owners, and therefore most of my blog already highlights women's shops.

So instead I thought I'd highlight a group that helps men and women who own and run businesses in the developing world.

Kiva is a non-profit organisation that works with microfinancing groups in developing countries across the world. The people in these countries don't have access to funds through normal banking systems, their "local" branch of a bank could be in a city hundreds of miles away. But they still need money to help expand their businesses, pay for tools or essential repairs, or help towards school fees for their children.

When you sign up you choose a person to lend $25 to. You can sort through applicants by gender, location, length of time for repayment, or how much of their target total they have left to reach. You can read the descriptions of their business, often translated by the Field Partners that work with them, to see what they have to say about their plans for the future of their business and to find out what they'll be using the loan for.

There is a risk of course, the statistic on the right hand side of each page tells you about the Field Partner, their "delinquincy rate" (the number of people that don't repay their loan), and of course in some countries sudden political turmoil or a natural disaster can lead to people being uprooted from their homes and businesses. But if it all goes well then not only do you lend $25 which you then get back to lend on again, you'll also be helping people in developing countries make a better life for themselves and their families.

If you have $25 to spare then I suggest celebrating International Women's Day by finding a woman-run business on Kiva and lend them the money. My last loan was to a woman in El Salvador who runs a general store and wanted to expand the range of products she sold.

The links to Kiva above are referral links, if sign up by them then I'll be able to loan another $25 for free. If you don't want to go via referral then the website is www.kiva.org/.

Have a nice day everyone!

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