Change Starts Here - The Road's Social Project

Burkina women

I am an aid worker. Like many of my colleagues, I often feel inadequate, unfulfilled as I don't "do enough". Enough to make a difference. Enough to make a real change in the world.

And yet, I do believe that the world can be made a better place. While I strongly believe change is a social movement, creating a social conscience, I am also convinced the change starts from within. Within each individual.

I want to start with me. And those around me: my friends, my colleagues, my family and those of you who read "The Road to the Horizon" regularly.

This is one of the reasons I started this blog, The Road. Not only to share my experiences, but also to make people aware of social issues. And to make people aware of "the work in progress", the work to "make this world a better place".

But talk is not enough. Now is the time to start doing something. And what better time than now, at the start of the "Season of Giving". Would we not want to do away with the unwanted presents this year, and use that money for a good cause?

So here's the background of my plan:

1/ "Change" starts within the individual, both in those that give and those being assisted. I want to concentrate the assistance on the individual, not on an organisation or institution.

2/ I truly believe in the power of micro-financing, a "poverty relief mechanism" which came into the spotlight when Bangladeshi economist Professor Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his micro-credit pioneer work.

3/ It is a fact that when women and girls earn an income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man. (Source: The Girl Effect, quoting Woman Empowered: Inspiring Change in the Emerging World. See also this FAO report)

4/ Thus, combining the above, I want to "invest" money, on a strictly not-for-profit basis, in individual initiatives by women in the developing world, through a controlled micro financing scheme.

5/ I am intrigued by the work of Kiva, a not-for-profit organisation, the world's first person-to-person micro-lending organisation. Through their website, Kiva enables individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world. Anyone can look up a person in the developing world who needs some start-up or investment funds (screened by local micro-financing organisations), and give them an interest-free loan.
Once the loan is paid back, the lender can redraw his/her money, or re-invest it in another individual. There is no overhead, all funds go directly to the person requesting for the loan.


Here is what we will do:

1/ I have set up a lending team on Kiva, through which I will encourage people to contribute to several projects. You can track the loans here.

2/ To kick things off, I made a loan of US$100 (80 Euro) to "Danaya", a group of seven women in the Hamdallaye district in the city of Koutiala, Mali. (check this post for details).

3/ With a group of colleagues, we will arrange for a series of small local social events in which each of us, in turn, will cook a dinner. Each participant will pay 20 Euros (about US$25), which we will invest through The Road's lending team in some of Kiva's selected micro-businesses set up by women.
Update Nov 4th:
Collected US$150 on the first one! Check this post.

4/ From November 1 until December 31 2008, I contributed US$1 for every comment left on this blog post. Each dollar was invested as a loan in a Kiva project through The Road's lending team.
Update: US$67 was collected by Dec 31.

5/ I will actively make publicity for this project on "The Road to The Horizon" and regularly report on its status. You can follow the progress of our project via our score card.

6/ You can also contribute through my PayPal account (to get the details send me an email via peter (a) theroadtothehorizon (dot) org), or register with Kiva, and contribute directly. Attribute your donation to the lending team "The Road". Drop me an Email when you contribute, so I can track the total donations.

Be the change you want to see, starting now!

Picture courtesy WFP (M.Sayagues)


Anonymous,  03 November, 2008 01:16  

I will be the first to comment! A good initiative and I will check out!

John B. - Virginia USA.

Anonymous,  03 November, 2008 01:17  

I am in!

Sonia E. - Amman Jordan

Anonymous,  03 November, 2008 01:18  

You might also mention, the forum of the Kiva community!

Chantal Delarue (Paris France)

Anonymous,  03 November, 2008 01:20  

I will spread the news!

Frederic N. Marseilles France

Anonymous,  03 November, 2008 02:29  

great organization. much respect.

Anonymous,  03 November, 2008 02:39  

I have been meaning to participate in this great idea and you give me even more motivation.
Good on you.

Anonymous,  03 November, 2008 02:41  

A comment! I will look around for something to do in Haiti when I am there.

Anonymous,  03 November, 2008 02:58  


Also- will this apply to comments left on Reddit on your behalf?

Peter 03 November, 2008 03:01  

Q: "will this apply to comments left on Reddit on your behalf?"

Social bookmarking is picking up on this post, and unfortunately I can not keep track of those...

So only comments left here will contribute!


Julia 03 November, 2008 05:34  

I think Kiva is really going to help change the world. And Kivafriends is a great place to hang out!

Damian 03 November, 2008 05:58  

Peter, I hadn't realised that it was possible to organise projects in this way. It's a great initiative. I reckon I'll try something similar when back in Australia, too. - Damian Doyle

JT 03 November, 2008 09:27  

Great initiative, Peter! Way to "be the change."

Anonymous,  03 November, 2008 12:08  

I'm in too!

John in Denver (Co)

Anonymous,  03 November, 2008 14:14  

Peter you are an inspiration to us all! Warren K. - Australia

Coyotebroad 03 November, 2008 14:44  

A great post to AWN, a great blog entry, and a great initiative on your part. Bravo. (I give to KIVA too!)

Anonymous,  03 November, 2008 14:49  

I want to contribute to this too!

Chang in Singapore.

Anonymous,  03 November, 2008 15:00  

Thanks for the reminder about Kiva! Last time I was there I was between postings. This time I will follow through with a donation.

Unknown 03 November, 2008 22:18  

what a great idea, thanks for that from becks h (England)

pumuckl 04 November, 2008 00:18  

have some difficulties with internet, so I try again - thanks for this post, I will check out kiva a bit more... you certainly inspire me :-)

in the meanwhile, one more comment (why just one per person??? ;-)

Unknown 04 November, 2008 01:49  

Great idea! One more...
Alex from Montreal

Anonymous,  04 November, 2008 06:49  


Theo B (Germany)

Unknown 04 November, 2008 10:14  

Great idea Peter. Let's spread the Kiva love!


Anonymous,  04 November, 2008 10:37  

Great work, mate!
~Rahul T, Australia

Anonymous,  04 November, 2008 11:07  

Very good proposal. I wish you a fruitful result.

Anonymous,  04 November, 2008 11:27  

Here's a comm' !
Good luck on your project.
Klari M.

Anonymous,  07 November, 2008 06:38  

Another Post for the support....

Can I post a 1000 more for a good cause :-) ?

Peter 07 November, 2008 07:12  

you can always post them, but I can only contribute if they come from different people! ;-)

Peter 11 November, 2008 22:22  

My mum just contributed 10 euro (13 dollar), added to the total.

thanks mum!


Anonymous,  12 November, 2008 09:12  

Thanks Peter for always giving us inspiration and taking an initiative!

Jun in Japan

Anonymous,  12 November, 2008 20:58  

Great idea Peter. I applaud your ability to get past the feelings of 'not doing enough' and actually do something!

Laura in Canada - for now...

Anonymous,  13 November, 2008 08:44  

I'm glad someone is willing to do something!

Taylor E. - Mississippi, USA

Peter 15 November, 2008 21:51  

My auntie contributed EU10 (US$13)

Bedankt Tante Nien! ;-)


ian-ink 17 November, 2008 12:23  

Ace idea! :)
Well done and best wishes!
Ian O'R, Wales

Anonymous,  18 November, 2008 16:50  

Well done, Peter... Thanks on behalf of the beneficiary of the fund.

Anonymous,  19 November, 2008 00:26  

With your WFP salary ;) ... get that $1 into the Kiva fund.

brianna 19 November, 2008 06:07  

Hello this is Brianna visiting first time to this site and find it very interesting. I really like to join it.and really want to continue the discussion with this site..

Social Bookmarking

Unknown 26 November, 2008 08:31  

I feel that this is really very nice and informative post which provide lot of useful information about Social Bookmarking.I really like this.
Social Bookmarking

Anonymous,  28 November, 2008 21:10  

Be the change!

E in Rome, Italy.

Peter 29 November, 2008 13:22  

US$60 assembled via comments to far. Yah! Keep it coming, people!


Anonymous,  30 November, 2008 18:53  

I'm in Peter!
A belated note to Chris for Haiti; check this out:
Yours, Betty :)

Mark 03 December, 2008 07:11  

Very inspirational project!
Just registered on Kiva now.

Anonymous,  06 December, 2008 17:26  

Ralph from Minnesota left a comment via Email

Anonymous,  06 December, 2008 17:26  

"E" from Rome, Italy, left a comment via Email.

Anonymous,  07 December, 2008 22:31  

Thank you for what you do! I would like to be an international aids worker, but I am still figuring out how to go about that.

Bomy H, United States

Anonymous,  16 December, 2008 18:31  

Peter, I found your blog via Changebloggers.

What an amazing testament of how an individual can make a different. You've inspired me and given me much food for thought. Thank you.

Anonymous,  19 December, 2008 14:01  

Not sure if I did it right but I did join Kiva and made a loan to the one organisation within the Road group which is waiting for funds (4 days left!), counting towards "the road".

Peter 20 December, 2008 11:10  


I checked and it all worked well. Thanks again for your contribution!


Peter 26 December, 2008 00:18  

Andrew Linn left a comment for this post, on the wrong one.. ;-)

Counting it in.


Peter 01 January, 2009 03:19  

We raised $67 through the comments on this post.

Thank you all!

The "Change Starts Here" project continues with the funds collected so far...


Anonymous,  03 January, 2009 23:26  

"When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for men." How do you know that is true? I have sen it repeated all over the web but never substantiated or put into context. The only citation is a book by a man who is a photographer by trade. If we are to make changes in the world shouldn't we make them based on reality and not some sexist nonsense

Peter 04 January, 2009 01:18  


Well, the book was co-written by Allbright too, but you are right: I will get some more substantive citations..


Peter 04 January, 2009 01:24  

See this FAO report:

19. The need for more equitable rights to land can be viewed from the perspective that women form an increasingly important segment of the local and national economic and social capital in addition to providing primary family maintenance. It has also been shown that women tend to reinvest more resources in the family unit than men and this reinvestment is the building block for nutrition, health, education and effective poverty alleviation. Indeed, recent studies in both developed and developing countries have shown that the success rate of both rural and urban small businesses started by women is significantly higher than for those started by men. Therefore, banks and service industries are learning to support rather than oppose women's initiatives; it is in their self-interest to support women with entrepreneurial skills. Similarly, it is in a nation's self-interest to invest resources in those parts of society that provide sustainable development.

Peter 04 January, 2009 01:28  

Found another one:
In rural areas of Ghana where non-commercial agricultural production was the main economic activity, women worked the land. Coastal women also sold fish caught by men. Many of the financial benefits that accrued to these women went into upkeep of the household, while those of the man were reinvested in an enterprise that was often perceived as belonging to his extended family. a country study of Ghana

Anonymous,  06 January, 2009 03:15  

Peter, thanks for the links. I have been busy juggling playing with my boys and reading heavy laden studies. The Ghana one is interesting. I had to do a little research on marriage customs in that country. I think when it is all added up it comes out as a wash. The mother's resources stay mostly within her extended family, mostly with her own children. She also gets help from her extended family including father and brothers. The same goes for her husband. The resources that does not go to "his" family goes to his extended family, including his mother, sisters, and their children. It is not that men are selfish and not taking care of their families, and women are. it is that the culture has developed a different way of allocating the resources that comes out the same in the end.

The UN report is something else, that will take some time to digest. A warning though, after reading many of these in the past, they are notoriously slanted. Sometimes they hit it right on the nose, and sometimes they have an agenda first and damn the facts.

In the mean time I will keep changing the world my way, helping parents with autistic children. Like my son Tim.
(I just wanted to make sure you didn't think I was just a troll!)

Peter 06 January, 2009 07:26  


Will continue to browse for articles, Kelly.. Meanwhile I am back at work and will ask around there too..


Damien Moran 04 February, 2009 18:21  

Dear Peter,

I recently came across Kiva while seeking grants for our disabled students at Edwenase Rehabilitation Centre in Kumasi, Ghana.

Well done on your intitiave and I wish you all the best. I will keep my energy focussed on my own projects but hope you get the support the grantees deserve.

Despite their statutory rights, graduates of tailoring, dressmaking, needlework, rural craft and showmaking at our Centre have no realistic chance of attaining governmental support to start off in their own business.

If you have any ideas of sources to apply for grants for the disabled students cum small business people please let me know. In reality, I think most of our students will not be able to pay back such start off grants as they already have so many uphill struggles to face financially or even getting past societal prejudice and obtaining regular clientele.

One of the worst things for those with an obvious disability is the lack of belief from civil society at large that they can do a good job and offer a prompt and professional service. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

Thanks in advance. Damien

Peter 08 February, 2009 13:08  

@Kelly: Found another report linking the gender issue to child chunger:

As a result of the strong influence of women’s education and the substantial progress
made in increasing it, women’s education is estimated to be responsible for almost
43 percent of the total reduction in child malnutrition that took place from 1970 to


Anonymous,  11 March, 2009 11:51  

I have made 43 loans on kiva, much of the money coming from previous completed loans.Even if the credit crunch hits i don't care, the point s to try and help hardwroking poor people. Wish the govt. would stop giving away taxes to foreign governments who buy cars and let the people loan direct to people.

Anonymous,  18 March, 2009 18:47  

Somebody told me that $1 was donated for every comment made on this blog, so here I go. Keep up the good work.

Peter 19 March, 2009 19:36  


Thanks for commenting... The $1 per comment fundraising ended 31/Dec, but still thanks for visiting!


Anonymous,  05 July, 2011 16:02  

I know its helping someone in Kenya. God bless your good work. I would like how our organization can be involved to help many families struggling.

Gerald, Nairobi

Peter 06 July, 2011 14:29  

Hi Gerald,

I would suggest you contact some of the local microfinance institutes, active in Kenya.. Lists should be available on

I am sure you can be of help there!

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