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Giving & Paying it Forward

Giving Opportunities

A History of Giving: Helping Women in Business

When I first started making hand painted cotton dresses 30 years ago I enlisted the help of the women in my community. Cahuita is a very small rural community on the Costa Rica Caribbean coast. I was surprised to learn the husbands were against their wives leaving the home to work, demanding they stay at home to cook and clean and take care of the children. I then devised a system of contract work so these women could do both. Encouraged by one husband, a carpenter, I paid for materials in exchange for him building his wife a work area to paint. This was my way of giving at that point in time.

Over the last 30 years Laurels Originals has trained and hired women in Costa Rica to sew and assist with painting textile art for which Laurel’s Originals has grown to be known. Many of these women have gone on to start their own businesses with the funds earned and knowledge gained and I applaud them their efforts.

Giving via KIVA with Laurel’s Originals

Recently an organization has come to my attention that helps us to help others by giving. It is called Kiva, a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of micro-finance institutions, Kiva allows individuals to lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.

I believe in helping those who live in my own backyard, so Laurel’s Originals, including our sister site, Canvas Totes and Bags, has implemented a giving policy to donate 5% of all sales to Kiva with a focus on the women of Costa Rica who are striving to better their lives and the lives of their families. Many of these women live in rural areas where jobs are scarce and they need to be at home to care for their children.

Our first donation to Kiva, made possible by a canvas rug sale to Casa del Pacifico, goes to Cristina Chacon, who is receiving a micro-loan to buy materials for her home-based sewing business. Our clients receives notification of a Kiva loan recipient thanks to their purchase with Laurel’s Originals. In this way we all have a connection, their purchase creates our funding and our funding creates more jobs for others. We are currently working on two additional projects for clients and look forward to furthering Cristina’s dream of continuing her home business.

It is very easy to understand how Kiva’s micro-loan program works, providing a conduit for giving in an effective way to helping others; 100% of all donations go directly to these micro-loans. works with institutions throughout the world and each institution is rated per their rate of payback. Once a loan is reimbursed, it goes back into our Kiva account where Laurel’s Originals can then choose another entrepreneur who has a dream of making a better life.

The Kiva program is a perfect fit for my way of giving…a way to pay it forward and helping those women who have a vision and desire to help themselves and their families. What a win-win!


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