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The International Bank of Bob: Connecting Our Worlds One $25 Kiva Loan at a Time

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,049 ratings  ·  213 reviews
Hired by to review some of the most luxurious accommodations on Earth, and then inspired by a chance encounter in Dubai with the impoverished workers whose backbreaking jobs create such opulence, Bob Harris had an epiphany: He would turn his own good fortune into an effort to make lives like theirs better. Bob found his way to, the leading porta ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by Walker Books
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Nancy Kennedy
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Bob Harris was a writer on assignment for a luxury travel website, on a whirlwind tour to test-drive the most expensive hotels around the world, when he had an epiphany: Most of the world doesn't live like this!

In Dubai, he stays in a hotel offering $1,500-a-night rooms and $7,500 cocktails served in glasses made of gold, but he discovers that pleasure palaces like these are being built by homeless, emigrant workers who labor for $6 to $8 a day. This jarring imbalance causes a seismic shift in t
Feb 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In fairness: I'm a friend of Bob's, a Kiva lender, and the copy editor of this book. Yet I would give it 5 stars were I none of the above, I promise. The International Bank of Bob made me laugh. It made me hope. And it made get off my backside and try to do something constructive. That's a 5-star book. Hell, I'd give it 4 for the hope alone. There is so much not enough of that out there. ...more
Lisa Klink
Feb 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I have to agree with Joss Whedon about “The International Bank of Bob.” He says that “No book this important should be this delightful.” He’s right. Bob Harris’ new book tackles huge issues like economic disparity and global poverty by bringing them down to a human scale.
Bob found himself staying in one of the most luxurious hotels in the world, courtesy of Inside the hotel was a vending machine that dispensed gold bars. Really. Just outside, he saw construction crews worki
May 06, 2014 rated it liked it
I recently started investing with Kiva and I have loved the experience so much I went looking for books about Kiva, an international micro finance clearing house, where ordinary people can loan a few dollars to other ordinary people around the globe, using the dignity not charity model to lend a helping hand to small business people in places as far away as Kyrgyzstan or Kenya or as close at hand as the USA. Helping people help themselves, From maybe buying a selling a few key goods in their com ...more
Feb 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
I picked this up for a couple of reasons. First because I'm skeptical and curious in equal measure about microfinance, and second because SUNFLOWERS. No, really, second because I find it easier to learn about things I don't understand (like finance) if I have lots of examples from real life. I was hoping for that, but what I got instead was footnotes. There are more footnotes inside this book than there are sunflowers in the field behind Bob. I got tired of back and forth, and am of the opinion ...more
Nick Arnett
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
On assignment for Forbes, Bob visited the world's most exclusive hotels. But along the way, he also saw the extreme gap between those who stay there and those who build and work at them. That inspired him to take another world tour, this time to hear the stories of recipients of Kiva micro-loans. Like Bob, the book is brilliant, funny, inspirational. He's also my cousin. ...more
Maureen Grigsby
Mar 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book!! It is a story of changing the world, one micro loan at a time. It is also a story of how incredibly interconnected our world is today, due to the Internet and cellular phones. Worth reading!

Bob Harris was writing an article on the world's most luxurious hotels. Appalled at the waste he saw and the gulf between the lives of the richest and the poorest--Bob decided to take the fees he earned and do something good with it.  He researched and began loaning funds out through Kiva and other micro-lending organizations. He then traveled the world and met some of the real individuals who are recipients of those funds to hear their stories and find out how those relatively small loans c
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: amazon-vine
Bob Harris had what many might consider a dream job, paid to stay in and write reviews of some of the best hotels in the world. But in Dubai, he came face-to-face with the reality of the disparity between the extremes of wealth and poverty, and he began looking for a way to use his modestly privileged life to help improve the lives of those less fortunate. The tool he found for doing this was the mico-lending portal at For as little as $25, he could help finance a loan to an entreprene ...more
Dec 16, 2012 rated it liked it
I am ashamed to admit that prior to reading this book I had never heard of and did not know that microlending was so readily available to those who want to donate. After reading this book however, one is definitely able to carry an intelligent conversation about microlending; Bob Harris does a good job of covering the basics. That being said, I must mention that this book reads more like a travel memoir than a business or economics book. If you are looking for an academic book on microl ...more
Kodzo Selormey
Mar 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I am regular Kiva lender and bought this book on the recommendation of another Kiva lender who had received an advanced copy.

The International Bank of Bob tells the story of how Bob came to start loaning with Kiva and then of his subsequent travels to meet the people behind the loans that he made, by visiting by visiting Field Partners and Borrowers across the Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia. Along the way, he answers many of the big questions about microlending such as excessive interest ra
Mar 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm a huge microfinance fan (and, apparently, a Bob Harris fan), so it's no surprise that I loved this book. Bob presents things in an entertaining, and easy-to-digest manner, while covering the very serious topic of world-wide poverty and some of its underlying issues.

What I appreciated most about this book is that Bob presents himself as just another guy trying to make a difference the best he can, without skimping on the research (what else would you expect from a Jeopardy champ?). I found hi
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Inspiring! And very easy to read. I was completely engrossed in this book, as it is an entertaining, witty and intelligent travel memoir. The focus is obviously microfinance, but this is not intimidating for non-economic minded folks; learning how different people in very different geographies live and work hard and aspire to more is a reality check and humbling experience. Really enjoyed this, and highly recommend it!
Mar 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A good book to learn about Kiva and how microfinance is working globally.
Apr 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Did you know that you can buy The World's Most Expensive Cocktail for $7,438 (it comes in a take-home gold tumbler)? Or that you can buy a special type of coffee for around $600 a pound that came from the rarified atmosphere of an animal's butt? No? Well, how about this - there's a flip side, a dark side to the craziness. A huge percentage of people on this Earth live on $1 *PER DAY*. Not because they're lazy, or criminals, but because they got dealt a different hand than so many of the rest of ...more
Rock Angel

A critique against the current state of micro-lending:
Confessions of a Microfinance Heretic: How Microlending Lost Its Way and Betrayed the Poor

Bob's travel tips:

----- At 13% created the "writer-ovreach" label

The author is an affable guy. Nary educated, in policy, world affairs, economics, fine arts, or even travel (yet he rates hotels for Forbes Travel). But he seems to have his heart in the right place. The first 3 chapters are dotted with minor (or not
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I am so glad that Bob Harris went on this enthralling, epic adventure, so that I didn't have to. But, boy, am I glad he did! And that he wrote so beautifully about it so we could all go along for the ride from the dengue fever free comfort of our favorite reading chair.

Little did Bob know when he went on a tour of luxury hotels around the world that it would spark a much bigger journey, one with the tiny little goal of trying to figure out how to do something about the horrible inequalities he w
Kelly Jahn
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The International Bank of Bob could (should?) be a life-changing book for people.

Bob Harris begins by telling us about the economic injustice that caused him to even undertake the book. Then he proceeds to take us on a whirlwind tour of the countries where he personally has funded Kiva microloans: war-torn countries, economically disadvantaged countries. In each, Bob gives us the background that we need to better understand the economic situation in the country and also provides a personal touc
Kelly W
Feb 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book immensely.Bob Harris writes in a conversational style that is a pleasure to read. I had vaguely heard of Kiva ( the organization ) and microlending in general, but his enthusiasm and explanation of the way they work has convinced me to become a microlender as well.

We follow Harris on his travels to countries around the world to see how these loans change lives and give people a chance to make a living.He even meets some of the actual clients to whom he is making loans. Graci
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Bob Harris' new book is a funny, educational and often poignant look at how he discovered the world of micro-loans: $25 loans to people all over the world trying to start or expand small businesses, enterprises that put food on their table and improve their quality of life, and make basic products available to their neighbors. Then Bob travels the world and meets the farmers and shopkeepers who have benefitted from micro-finance, from South America to Asia to Africa.

Bob has a breezy, conversatio
Mar 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
You should read this book for many reasons. The author is a funny, pleasant guy, who travels places that I will never go and finds something good about each of those places. He explains many of the things that I have not quite understood about and does a good job of putting into words the things that make me feel so good about being a lender. You finish the book with a better understanding of the difficulties that exist in the effort to bring people out of extreme poverty, but also with ...more
Jeff Chamberlain
Mar 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Fascinating look at the effectiveness of microfinance through the lens of Kiva and its partners. It certainly makes me glad that I contribute to Kiva, and makes me not only want to give more, but also to meet some of the people that my loans have benefitted. As difficult as the world's problems are, this book gives hope. It also provides perspective that we all need (concepts such as "the birth lottery," "yes, and...," are things we all need to keep in mind). ...more
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The funny, witty, but imminently helpful, guide to saving the world. Bob Harris made making a difference seem possible. I received a Kiva card for Christmas and after reading Bob's book (yes, I'm calling him Bob because he feels like my friend after reading his book) I've made additional loans and felt more educated on the process. Go Friends of Bob Harris! ...more
Mar 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Loved this. It's funny (what I expected from his first book) but also had me in tears in many places (the atrocities that we [humankind] are willing to commit in the name of "_________" horrify and scare me anew every time) and inspired to figure out a way to help others, even while I'm at home raising my two kids. ...more
Jack Osieja
Jan 07, 2015 rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading the first half or 250-300 pages of this book. I found almost every experience that he had in the book was completely and totally fascinating. I was able to find out what struggles others had and how I was able to help these people. I even considered loaning to others across the world. Reading this book made me want to help others instead of being a bystander.
Mar 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle
This is a well-written book about Kiva, those who participate through its programs, and how it connects people. I'm a huge fan, and lender with Kiva. I appreciate the experiences shared in this book. I highly recommend it! ...more
Feb 08, 2013 marked it as to-read
I really want to read this, especially since I know what Kiva does.
Mar 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Just starting this book and liking it already.

"Win big at the birth lottery, and you get to poop gold by the kilo."

Sounds funny out of context.

Mar 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This review can be found at or as part of the Vine program. ...more
Mar 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: change-the-world
Terrific, easily approachable account of Bob's journey to make a difference and encourage others to make connections and alleviate poverty.

Go Kiva!
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Around the World ...: Multiple Countries 3 24 May 02, 2013 03:07PM  
Around the World ...: The International Bank of Bob 2 26 Mar 08, 2013 10:33AM  
Goodreads Authors...: The International Bank of Bob 1 6 Mar 07, 2013 11:52AM  
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