5 Underdogs Who Turned A Small Loan Into Something Huge

Five hard-working borrowers share their amazing stories

Browsing the pages of Kiva’s microlending platform, it’s hard not to find a story or two that moves you to make a loan. With borrowers in 83 countries and lenders in 192, there are countless tales of overcoming adversity, lack of access to opportunity, and inspiring individuals making a dream for themselves with ideas small and large to improve their own livelihoods and well as their communities. The following borrowers are just a few of the many who make their loans work hard for them. To support people like them, visit

Overcoming Adversity in Times of Conflict

Borrower: Meada
Loan Date: October 31, 2013
Loan Amount: $7,000
Lenders: 212

A wife and mother of four, Meada has beat the odds that some women in Iraq face, where gender inequality and societal and cultural norms often insist women remain dependent on their husbands. She now runs her own business manufacturing and providing prosthetic limbs to those with severe injuries from war-torn areas.

The Ceramics Artist

Borrower: Myrian
Loan Date: June 30, 2009
Loan Amount: $2,600
Lenders: 85

A mother-turned-ceramic maker in Paraguay was able to put her children through college after launching her pottery business with clay and wood materials purchased with the help of a Kiva loan. Since then, Myrian has helped other women in her community fund their business ideas, forming a group who share a workshop and retail space where they sell their goods.

Rebuilding Local Convenience, and a Home

Borrower: Gerilina
Loan Date: February 11, 2014
Loan Amount: $225
Lenders: 9

After the devastating Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in July 2016, Gerilina, who is a married mother of seven children, was living in a temporary structure built with salvaged materials. Her first Kiva loan allowed her to rebuild her home. Since then, she’s restarted her “sari-sari” business or local convenience store.

Turning Trash into Cash in Kenya

Borrower: Wilson
Loan Date: July 30, 2013
Loan Amount: $250
Lenders: 11

In the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya, Wilson spent his nights working as a security guard, eventually saving enough money to buy a handcart to start a trash hauling business in the town. While working two jobs, he took out a loan to grow the business and expanded into recycling plastics. He now employs ten young people who all make a living thanks to Kibera’s Trash is Cash business.

A Peace of Mind, One Flush at a Time

Borrower: Jackline
Loan Date: October 29, 2012
Loan Amount: $725
Lenders: 26

Founder of the Jaombi Foundation School in the Mukuru slum of Nairobi, Kenya, Jackline is determined to give other children the same opportunities she was granted by educating them in their communities. As teacher and principal, Jackline teaches many students at the school that now employs seven teachers. After noticing that some female students were dropping out because the school had no restroom facilities, she turned to Kiva to request loans to fund the purchase of two Fresh Life toilets. The students now have a sanitary option for a restroom and the school will soon grow to offer lunch.

Top photo: A smiling group of Kiva borrowers in Mali.

This article is part of our series celebrating 10 years of collaboration between PayPal and Kiva. Help kick off the next decade of impact. Make a loan today at and the first 10,000 lenders through 10/10/16 will receive a $25 Kiva credit, provided by PayPal, to lend again. Terms and conditions apply.


The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.


Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger


Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head


Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor


Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet
Instagram / Leonardo DiCaprio

This August, the world watched as the Amazon burned. There were 30,901 individual fires that lapped at the largest rainforest in the world. While fires can occur in the dry season due to natural factors, like lightning strikes, it is believed that the widespread fires were started by loggers and farmers to clear land. Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, cites a different cause: the actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

DiCaprio wasn't accused of hanging out in the rainforest with a box of matches, however President Bolsonaro did accuse the actor of funding nonprofit organizations that allegedly set fires to raise donations.

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The Planet