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.