Merry Christmas from Mawul

Holiday greetings from Togo: Your online microfinance loan has been paid back in full.

By Andrew Leonard

Published December 21, 2007 3:22PM (EST)

One year ago this week, I lent Mawulé Agbeka $25 via the online microfinance nonprofit Kiva. Agbeka is an entrepreneur in Togo who needed cash to buy a freezer so she could start selling frozen foods. With my help and similar contributions from a score of other lenders, she raised a total of $1,200.

This morning, I received an e-mail from Kiva informing me that Mawulé Agbeka has paid back the full sum of the loan. My $25 has been returned to me. I can withdraw it, donate it to Kiva's operational expenses or roll it over into a new loan.

Since its founding in 2005, Kiva says, 177,000 lenders have made nearly $17 million in loans and been rewarded with a repayment rate of 99.8 percent. According to the Microcredit Summit Campaign, across the globe 133 million families received a microfinance loan last year.

I don't think that's enough. I'm going to roll it over and double up on my bet. Call it the How the World Works Christmas tradition.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Globalization How The World Works