This year all the grads we know are getting Kiva gift certificates instead of a boring check or gift certificate to some chain store. Of course every cash-strapped graduate would love a check but with Kiva they get the money AND they get to do good.
Here’s how a Kiva gift certificate works. You buy a gift certificate for whatever amount you want (lowest is $25). Then the gift recipient goes to Kiva’s site and chooses an entrepreneur in a developing country to loan the money to. The microloans are overseen by various banking institutions and the payback rate is 99% (yes, as Muhammed Yunus said, the poor always do pay back). Once the loan is paid back the lender (your grad) can either choose to reloan the money to someone else or withdraw the money and pay their rent. It’s like giving a gift twice – first to empower a microentrepreneur, then to show grads in your life how proud you are of them.