Saturday, December 05, 2009

Blog with Heart Challenge (or, how to eradicate world poverty this holiday season!)

The other day I saw an update from the Kiva fanpage on Facebook mentioning the Blog With Heart Challenge.  The challenge is a call-to-arms of all bloggers to form lending teams on the Kiva website and encourage their readers to join the teams and make their own $25 loans.

Well, guess what, my lovely readers?  I've signed us up.  ; )

If you haven't heard of Kiva yet, they are a wonderfully awesome organization that links kind-hearted people like you and me with entrepreneurs in developing countries (real, live individuals and small businesses all over the world) so we can lend them money on a short-term basis to help them build or grow their businesses (click here for more info).

Now, I know this is a crazy time of year to be asking you to part with your money-- there's Christmas shopping to be done, and everyone's already strapped due to the recession.  But here's the cool part about Kiva (and why I hope every one of you will join)-- you're not giving a donation, you're giving out a loan.  Meaning you'll get your money back (and, in my experience, pretty quickly, too-- my loans have been paid back within a few months to a year or so).  So, really, you're helping someone out with their business essentially for free.  You can lend out $25 to the entrepreneur of your choice, and then over time they'll pay you back and you'll get your entire $25 back (unless there's a loss due to currency exchange).  It's a win-win. Sure, there is a chance they could default on you, but in my 2 years as a member and 11 loans given so far, no one has failed to pay me back yet.

How could you not give lend them money?? ; )

Here's what you do:
  1. Go to my team page.
  2. Click the big, green JOIN NOW button.
  3. Browse through the list of entrepreneurs and choose who you'd like to support.  (Be sure to select to have the loan counted towards the "Life is Good Blog" team.)  You can even pay through PayPal, meaning you might not even need to get out of your chair to grab your wallet.
  4. That's it!  
See how easy that was?  So head on over and give a little.  It'll make your heart feel all warm and fuzzy, I promise.

EDIT: A couple of commenters have brought this NYT article (a response to this original blog post) to my attention.  The article points out that Kiva does not exactly work directly from person to person as I stated above-- instead the loans are often disboursed by microfinancers before even being posted on the Kiva website, and thus a lender's dollars might not go directly to that exact person but back to refund the microfinancer who will then give that money out as a loan to a different entrepreneur.  After reading it went back to the Kiva website and found that Kiva does mention this in their How Kiva Works page (emphasis mine):

4) Kiva provides the funds to our Field Partners by aggregating the loan funds from all contributing lenders. Most Field Partners then use the Kiva lender funds to backfill the loan they’ve already disbursed to the entrepreneur. Disbursals can happen up to 30 days before, or 30 days after a loan request is uploaded to the Kiva website.
5) Over time, the entrepreneur repays her loan. The Field Partner collects those repayments and lets Kiva know if a repayment was not made as scheduled. We give Field Partners the option to cover both currency losses and entrepreneur defaults.

(The Field Partners being the microfinance institutions)
At the bottom of the How Kiva Works page is also a diagram highlighting this process:

The chief complaint in the article is that Kiva is not being transparent enough about how the loans actually work, but all the information is right there on the website and it was I who did not look through it all carefully enough to catch the differences (and it's not like it's hidden in fine print somewhere, it's all right there in plain sight).  So sorry about that.  However, I do not think any of this reflects poorly on Kiva itself, nor does it change the way I feel about the organization or what it does.  I still feel good about supporting them, and hope you will, too.


  1. Anonymous3:23 PM

    I love your passion to help. However, you may want to read this article from the NY Times since what they actually do (Kiva) is quite different from what they claim. It is still a good organizationyou and your readers think they can fund a specific person or business and then be upset with you when they learn how it works.

  2. I have been lending with Kiva for a year, and I have had great experiences so far!

  3. I have updated the post after reading that link. Looking back through the Kiva site, they actually are quite clear about how it all works, I don't think they're misrepresenting at all.

  4. Hi there. Just FYI, the "about" page you found on was substantially revised in response to my blog post about Kiva's transparency. So what you read was not there before. Kiva has made progress. I'd still like it to be clearer about the fact that borrows pay interest even though Kiva users don't earn any.



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