On 22nd April, 47 years ago, Earth Day was first celebrated to mark the start of the modern day green movement. Environmental protection was elevated to the status of national agenda in America and has since gained global importance.

While governments across the world attempt to make eco-friendly policies, individuals also have the power to make a difference at a micro level. Plenty of grassroot efforts by individuals and social businesses have impacted economies and the environment, one family at a time:

  • A single mother that uses sustainable farming to grow carrots in her backyard to sell at the local market,
  • A rural family that uses solar lamps for electricity,
  • A destitute father who burns clean green fuels to keep his family warm and safe from carbon monoxide poisoning.

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All these projects help cut the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Money – an obstacle towards progress

These eco-friendly efforts need a small amount of upfront capital which impoverished families do not possess. They also do not have access to this kind of money because banks prefer not to deal with such high risk consumers. Loan sharks do lend money to people at the bottom of the pyramid but that is a rather perilous option.

Loans for poverty alleviation

The alternative is a network of microfinance institutions that specialize in lending money to lower income groups in order to help them escape the poverty cycle. In the background are philanthropists, NGOs and crowd funding platforms that provide money.

One such crowd funding platform that has been around for more than a decade, is Kiva. Anyone with an internet connection can lend as little as $25 (at 0% interest rate) to a micro project of their choice in different parts of the world. The money is returned to the individual after a while allowing for the loan to be recycled for another project, if the lender so wishes. This way, a little money goes a long way in the fight against poverty.

How Kiva celebrates Earth Day

As part of their celebration of Earth Day each year, Kiva places an emphasis on lending money for green projects, like:

  • Improving access to safe drinking water,
  • Helping families purchase basic solar systems where no source of electricity is present,
  • Spreading the use of clean-burning cook stoves, and
  • Implementing sustainable agricultural practices in general.

For a list of green projects currently looking for funding, visit Kiva. If you have a spare $25 lying around, consider using it to change someone’s life while protecting the environment.

Here are some impressive stats about Kiva:

Established in 2005, Kiva has since developed a global lending community of 1.6 million lenders, who have crowdfunded over $950 million in microloans to 2.5 million entrepreneurs in 86 countries, with a 97% repayment rate.

Premal Shah, president and co-founder of Kiva, said, “When it comes to climate change, we all share the costs. The cost of doing something can be as little as $25. The cost of doing nothing is much higher.”

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