Posted by: Tommy | October 10, 2011

Buying Pigs in Indonesia…from China.

In almost 18 months of writing this blog and a full year or traveling around the world, we have yet to try and use it for something beneficial.  In our minds, it is about us putting our thoughts and memories of these experiences onto “paper” and sharing those experiences with our friends, family and random strangers who find us on the internet.  We’ve talked about it – specifically, Anna and I discussed proposing a Big Brother Mouse book in Laos, sponsored by and asking for donations from readers to cover it.

But ultimately, we decided against that.  We have also decided against letting various websites put ads in our blog and giving us a few cents each time someone accidentally clicked on the ad.  This blog isn’t about getting money, either for us or anyone else.  But I do want to share with you some advice on capital preservation.

It’s not something we’ve learned about during the trip – we learned about it last year sometime and have been “playing” with it for a while now.  But now that we’ve traveled to some seriously developing countries, the benefit of it really hits home.  It’s called Kiva and it’s a website that allows you to give out micro-loans to entrepreneurs around the world.  You don’t get interest on your loans, but you do get status reports on how things are going for the entrepreneur(s) you’ve selected.

Prompting this blog post is the update we received on our most recent loan yesterday.  The loans are in increments of $25 and 2 years ago we put in $25, just to check it out.  At the time, we loaned the $25 to a group doing animal sales in Tajikistan.  6 months later, we were paid back that $25.  We re-lent the $25, this time to a woman in Mali who wanted to open a grocery store.  Our money was paid back in 6 months.  Even though we’ve been repaid, we are still receiving (on our Kiva page, not in our email) updates on the grocery store.  We made another loan while on the trip, this time to a woman in Indonesia who wanted to buy pigs for breeding and selling.  She’s been making her interest payments and we should have the full $25 back by next month.

What this trip has really done for us and our relationship to Kiva is to show us that $25 really does make a difference.  Not that $25 is the entire loan – most of the loans are for $200-5,000 in total and your $25 is only part of it – but people in developing countries can legitimately start a business for $500, so $25 can help with that.  In America, that would be the amount spent on a few office supplies.

Ni Ketut Sulasih, the borrower in Indonesia, took $950 (8.4 million rupiah) from Kiva to purchase piglets.  She represents a group of woman who raise the pigs, then cook and sell the pork in their kitchen.  They spent the $950 on piglets and feed.  After 6 months, they’ve sold the original batch of pigs and serviced the debt for a profit of almost $500.  A 50% profit in 6 months is great.  Earning $500 in 6 months, total, shows you why they need loans to keep developing.  The average person in Indonesia makes about $1.60 per day.

Anyway, in light of recent financial developments in America, we thought we’d share with you the only investment vehicle we’ve found that hasn’t lost money while we’ve been on the trip (other than that stock in Amazon! Buy a Kindle!).  And if it helps someone out, all the better.  If you click on the link below, you can check out Kiva and you, too, could be earning 0% interest while helping a lady in Indonesia buy a pig, which makes Indonesian pigs a better investment than the S&P 500 these days.



  1. I want to do this! It’s so much more than a return on your $$$.

  2. The updates you receive are worth that $25 investment. How inspiring.

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