June 21: Buying Cookies in Togo

I’m not out on a drive tonight, so i’m having a little bit of home time, with hot water bottles, warm comfort food and hot chocolate. And earlier this evening I opened an e-mail from Kiva, saying I had now accumulated $25 in re-paid Kiva loans. Yay!

I adore Kiva. I first started lending more than a year ago. If you’ve not heard of it, Kiva essentially works when you agree to lend someone $25 or more to help develop their small business. They then repay that loan over an agreed term.  In my opinion, this is so much better than a straight-up donation. It encourages responsibility and personal growth and good business practices and all kinds of happy things.  And because the loan is eventually paid back (usually), you can later re-invest it in someone else. For example, the original $100 I invested more than a year ago has now funded 6 loans! And I can keep recycling that money into new loans in the future. Who knows how many people will be helped by such a small amount of money. Simply love it.

Of course you have to be careful what micro-finance organizations to loan through. There are so many different ones on Kiva. Some charge their borrowers ridiculous interest rates. Some are just plain dodgy and might not treat their borrowers all that nicely. Fortunately, there are ways to research these things in order to make the most ethical decision.

Tonight I made my sixth Kiva loan and my third to a woman in Togo. My previous two Togolese loans were to wonderful woman who sold flip flops at market stalls.  This time i’m hugely excited to announce that i’ve invested in the cookie industry!

Ayoko is 42 and runs a stall re-selling cookies and other snacks. Cookies always make people smile, so I know i’ve made the right decision.  And as a cookie enthusiast, I do love that i’ve just spent money to purchase cookies in a country i’ve never even been to.

So good luck, loveliest Ayoko.  I’ll spend this cold Kalahari night dreaming of cookies in warm and far-off places. Love.


Ayoko at her epic cookie stall in Togo


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