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Stumped for a gift idea? Give the power to change the world

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Updated: 2/03 12:04 pm

(BPT) - Every year, office or classroom gift exchanges, thank you tokens for service providers, and last-minute items for acquaintances that drop in unannounced leave many Americans wrestling with a burning question: What can you give for $25 (the ubiquitous price point for this type of gifting)?

How about the chance to help change the world?

Microlending is the practice of making small loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries. The borrowers use the money - as little as $25 - to expand their businesses, educate their families and improve their communities. Now, it's possible to give everyone on your list a gift card that will allow them to make such a loan. For roughly the price of a designer scented candle, you can give someone the chance to make a tangible, quantifiable, powerful difference in the life of people around the world.

How it works

By going to www.kiva.org/gifts, you can choose an amount, purchase a Kiva Card and select the delivery option that works best for you. Print it yourself and keep some cards on hand for drop-in guests. Or, send it via Facebook, email or U.S post to recipients anywhere in the world.

Recipients redeem the Kiva Card at Kiva.org by selecting the specific borrower who will receive the loan. The website provides detailed information about each borrower and how he or she will use the loan to build their business and create opportunity for their families and communities. It's possible to find borrowers who appeal to the passions of virtually every gift recipient.

If your giftee is a foodie, perhaps she'll choose to give her loan to a beekeeper in Kenya or organic coffee farmer in Mexico. If the card recipient believes in promoting green energy, he may choose as his beneficiary an entrepreneur who brings solar power to a region of Tanzania where there is no electricity. Have an art or craft fan on your gift list? He or she may choose to lend to a weaver who supports his family and preserves an ancient art form through the products he weaves and sells.

The gift that can truly keep on giving

The benefit of a Kiva Card doesn't end with the satisfaction of having helped others. Kiva borrowers have an impressive repayment rate of nearly 99 percent. Neither the lender nor Kiva makes any money from the loan. Once the borrower repays the $25 loan , your gift recipients can either reclaim the cash value of the card to spend on a gift for themselves, or they can opt to reinvest the money and make a new loan through Kiva.

As they relend their money to another borrower on Kiva, your initial gift of $25 has the potential impact of hundreds of dollars. The recipient could continue to reap the spiritual rewards of giving for years after receiving your initial gift.

To learn more, or to start giving Kiva Cards, visit www.kiva.org/gifts.

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