FC makers help makers! What a record!

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s a great time to tell a special story about giving — and YOU, our Fiber College friends, are a HUGE part of that story.

Several years ago in my early days as a Fiber College volunteer, I approached Astrig (FC Director Extraordinaire) about a way that we might reach out beyond our immediate FC Community — could we use the energy of our participants to help others who were using the fiber arts to change their lives?

Astrig agreed that we should try! Let’s go with KIVA!

A women’s collaborative of crafters in Guatemala. We helped to fund a loan so one of the members could purchase thread and embroidery materials.

KIVA is a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals or groups lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.

So, at the 2014 Fiber College, I set up a video display on the front porch of the campground office; it’s a hub of activity during FC and maybe I could stir up some interest. I set up my computer and a large monitor and ran a video from the kiva.org website throughout the weekend. I put out a fishbowl for cash donations. SUCCESS! In 2014, based on those first donations, we created a KIVA Fiber College lending team. We made our first SIX loans to women working with textiles to bring themselves out of poverty in developing countries!  What a thrilling start!

Praweesuda Thailand weaver materials
Praweesuda, a weaver from Thailand.  Our loan helped her to purchase materials to weave and sell hammocks. 

KIVA works with a range of organizations to find borrowers and administer loans. They call these organizations Field Partners because they work at the local level, within the communities where loans are being used to make a difference. While most of them are microfinance institutions, they also work with schools, NGOs, social enterprises and more. They all share one thing in common: the social mission to alleviate poverty and improve people’s lives.

Lenders (that’s US!) can donate in increments of $25 — their donations are pooled with money from other lenders and the money is disbursed to the Field Partners to fund loans to local entrepreneurs. As money is repaid, it is returned to the lender to cash in OR to re-lend!

nusrat Pakistan Embroidery handkerchiefs
Nusrat is an embroider from Pakistan. We made a loan to help her to purchase embroidery materials so she can grow her business of embroidering and selling handkerchiefs.

Starting in 2015, Astrig and Steve made a pledge to donate annually 1% of all Fiber College registration fees to KIVA—to help even more makers! It’s been astounding!

Here is a picture of our Fiber College KIVA donations to date:

  • We have financed 101 loans!
  • All of our loans have been made to women using the arts to improve their families’ lives.
  • Our loans have gone to help women in 29 countries including Pakistan, Guatemala, Thailand, Turkey, Senegal, Mali, Rwanda, Haiti, Ecuador, Cambodia, Peru, Kosovo, and Kyrgyzstan.
  • Fiber College has donated $1158.00 since 2014.
  • That money has been used, repaid, and re-loaned as loans totaling $2625.00!

Note: In just the last 24 hours, the Fiber College KIVA team has received enough money in repayments to fund two NEW loans! Time to go make new loans — thank you, Fiber College friends!

If you want to know more about KIVA, just click here. You can join as an individual and then join the Fiber College team. We look forward to continuing to support makers around the world!

Vinimua Samoa textile artist
Vinimua is a textile artist from Samoa. We helped her to purchase a wide variety of materials including paints and stencils so she can grow her business.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

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