Saturday, November 01, 2014

Colorado man builds business connections one footstep at a time

By MEAGAN PATTON, Herald Connections Editor | 6/16/2010

Today is the 106th walking day for a 28-year-old man who walked through Ottawa Tuesday.

Wearing a blue shirt and a 50-pound backpack and holding a dog on a leash, Jonathon Stalls is walking across America to raise awareness for Kiva.org, a global micro-loan group.

Today is the 106th walking day for a 28-year-old man who walked through Ottawa Tuesday.

Wearing a blue shirt and a 50-pound backpack and holding a dog on a leash, Jonathon Stalls is walking across America to raise awareness for Kiva.org, a global micro-loan group.

Stalls, originally from Colorado, started his journey in Delaware and hopes to reach San Francisco by November. He said he averages 15 miles a day and stays with people along the way, some friends, some supporters of Kiva.org, and some just interested in helping him.

Kiva connects people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty, Stalls said. It’s the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website, allowing individuals to make a $25 donation to help a prospective business or farm owner, he said. That money gets returned to the individual 98 percent of the time, Stalls said.

“So people can invest that $25 again and again,” he said. “It allows people to use the same $25 for years to help people. Some people have their entire savings account invested in Kiva, and when they need their money back, they just wait for the cycle to end and take it out.”

He believes in the program, he said, because he believes people should help each other.

“It teaches the lender to share their money, and it teaches the borrower they already have what it takes to be successful,” Stalls said.

So far, Stalls’ lending team has raised more than $147,000 for Kiva.org.

Going on a cross-country walk was appealing to spread his message, he said, because it also lets him enjoy the scenery of the country.

“It was very attractive to me to see small-town America at a slower pace,” Stalls said.

In his backpack, he carries lots of water, food, dog food, extra socks and shoes for his dog. He often gets strange looks and inquiries from police officers, he said, but once he explains the situation, they usually understand.

“The cops are always really cool,” Stalls said. “They’re just trying to do their job.”

Last night, Stalls stayed with Kiva supporter Chris Whittrock, Gardner. Whittrock walked with Stalls Tuesday.

“It’s a humbling experience to know you’re helping somebody a world away,” Whittrock said.

During his journey so far, he has walked about 1,300 miles, eaten at more than 50 dining tables and has used up four pairs of shoes, he said.

And he has loved every minute of it, Stalls said.

“I’ve just got all the time in the world, and I’m taking it all in,” he said.

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