Mother’s Day Riddle: When Is a Gift Also a Loan?

A five-time foster parent, who is soon to be a first-time mom, invites you to embrace the unfathomable possibilities of hope that $25 can bring.

microfinance and mother’s day: a match made in kiva heaven

One microloan can be the first step in making this mother’s dreams for her baby come true. (Photo: Courtesy Kiva)

Beth Kuenstler is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Kiva.

You never know who you’re going to meet. Or how they’ll touch your life, and vice versa.

These truths have manifested in my life in a couple of ways: My chosen career path—bringing attention to worthy causes (currently at microfinance nonprofit Kiva)—and what some may consider an unconventional path to motherhood.

In many ways, the two are intertwined.

I’m thinking about this a lot as Mother’s Day approaches, and my husband and I prepare to officially adopt our first child—a brilliant, smiling six-month-old named Will.

We couldn’t have expected this six months ago. It’s left me marveling at the importance of keeping one’s heart open to opportunity and surprise.

What stood out most was the richness of their spirits and the kindness they put out into the world, even though they lived in what most would consider to be unbearable situations. The hope that people can hold for themselves changed my belief in humanity.

My path to motherhood was through the foster-care system. I chose this route for a few reasons, but mostly because I’ve always had the belief that children are born into the world as perfect little beings. They shouldn’t have to suffer because others are unable to support and love them through life.

My decision to go into nonprofit work came from a similar place. Running marketing programs for large private-sector companies, I had a suspicion that my skills could be better applied empowering others, people who too often don’t have a voice or hand in their own fates.

When I joined international humanitarian organization CARE, I saw this firsthand. The conditions and poverty were staggering. But after meeting and speaking with people—mostly women—what stood out most was the richness of their spirits and the kindness they put out into the world, even though they lived in what most would consider to be unbearable situations. The hope that people can hold for themselves changed my belief in humanity.

Many of the women I met were mothers themselves. I got to observe their strength—both physical and emotional—and the lengths they would go to to make life better for their children. It wasn’t just about protecting the kids; it was about catapulting them into brighter futures. Under the worst circumstances, these women still found ways to do it.

One way they planned for a better future was through microfinance and savings programs. At CARE, I worked closely with village savings and loan associations, and I saw the power of women participating in their local economies. Now at Kiva, I’m able to do even more to spread the word about financial empowerment, and how affordable credit—even the smallest of loans—can make change. When you give people with open hearts the tools they need to succeed, they do incredible things.

Through both these experiences and my approach to motherhood, I’ve realized that you can’t always control who comes into your life and why and how. Sometimes you have to take chances, believe it’s the right thing, and embrace it. It’s true for foster parents; it’s true for Kiva borrowers investing completely in their businesses; and it’s true of anyone who wants to do good in the world, but may not know how.

When you stay open to opportunities, you can give back in ways that other people need, but that you may not have anticipated.

This Mother’s Day, I’ll be giving the moms in my life Kiva Cards for this exact reason. When you give a Kiva Card, you give someone the opportunity to make a $25 loan to an entrepreneur working toward a better future. As this borrower succeeds, they repay, and your recipient can re-lend that money again and again to touch more lives.

It’s the gift of an unexpected and unique connection. Maybe the people you gift will lend to a woman in Mongolia who has a smile that reminds them of their grandmother, or a farmer who wants to buy a tractor that harkens back to their Midwestern childhood. Kiva taps into these fundamental commonalities and opens both sides up to possibility.

So, as I go into a very special Mother’s Day—for the first time looking forward to the many more certain to come with little Will—I can’t think of a better gift than one that takes a chance on people to make the world a better place.

When was the last time you benefitted from an unexpected change? Chart the course in COMMENTS.

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