Thursday, October 08, 2009

AASFSHNR Reaches US $1m In Loans

After hearing Muhammad Yunus at the 2008 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference speak of his work establishing the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh (and later the Grameen Foundation) to help the poor make their lives better through microfinance loans, I decided that I shouldn't site on my arse and applaud him for this work then continue to do nothing myself.  So I spent some time (and agreed, it was too much time) looking around for a way to get involved in helping those who actively want to help themselves either through microfinance or some other method.  And then I found Kiva and was particularly interested in it because of what seemed to be a large and active Athiest, Agnostic, Skeptic, Freethinker, Secular Humanist and other Non-Religious (AASFSHNR) community.

First let me say that I know that microfinance isn't without its detractors.  What is?  People claim that the interest rates charged by MFIs (Micro Finance Institutions - those making the microfinance loans to borrowers) are exhorbitant compared to larger loans, yet they often fail to look deeper than just the interest rate.  It takes a certain amount of work to manage any loan, whether it is for $500 or $500,000 and this money needs to be recouped.  The MFIs are often not charities themselves and even if they are, they still need to make enough money to pay their workers.  When you look at a (say) 40% interest rate from an MFI, you need to look around and see what the loan sharks are charging - often in excess of 100%.  So that makes the 40% a lot more affordable and a much safer (both financially and often physically) option for the borrowers.  So, I'm here knowing full well what I'm doing and I encorage anyone interested in taking part in microfinance to investigate it for themselves.

Now, that aside, can I say that the AASFSHNR group, started back in late August, 2008 when Kiva introduced the idea of lending teams to further encourage community participation and encouragement, has just passed the amazing sum of US $1,000,000 in loans.  That's a million bucks, folks!  That's a lot of money in anyone's books.  And for a group of apparently soulless people lacking any moral or ethical reason to be nice to anyone, I think that this is quite an amazing result that we've achieved.  And we've achieved it purely because we WANT to help others out, not because some myth or fairy tale has indicated that we should do this.  We're doing good for the sake of doing good.  :)

And we're the first group to pass the US $1m mark - the Kiva Christians ($640k), Team Obama ($480k) and Australia ($325k) are currently the next highest lending teams.  I can but encourage those teams to follow in our footsteps!  :)

An additional and very significant milestone is that the total sum loaned through Kiva is approaching the US $100m mark - that's another seriously impressive achievement.

So, is there something you can do to help out those less fortunate people who are willing to work at making their lives better?  Kiva loans start at US $25 each and they currently have a greater than 98% repayment rate - so that's just over a 1.5% default rate!  If you're interested in joining Kiva to help others there's 2 options - you can just sign up and go for it, or you can email me and I'll send you an invite, then accept it and go for it.  :)

I'm looking forward to a long and fruitful relationship with Kiva and through this, being able to help a lot more people break through the poverty barrier, make a better life for themselves and their family and then turn around and help others achieve what we helped them achieve.


The Outspoken Wookie


Jeff said...

What a great post! Thanks for the links. You piqued my interest.

Nerdiah said...

This is great!