Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Improving the world a tiny bit at a time

So found an interesting way of "giving" today that might intrigue some of you, so thought I'd share.   Jane, who I knew in another lifetime through riding, posted a link to Kiva - which I'd never heard of.

Kiva, it turns out, essentially crowd sources loans for people who otherwise wouldn't have access to them (eg women in developing countries).   Hence the quotes around giving, since technically you get it back.  Reading the literature and Jane's testimonial, repayment rates are apparently pretty high.  But I'm looking at it as a donation that can be repurposed.  So when (I'm trying to be positive here!) it's repaid, I'll re-loan it back out to whoever needs it next.   And if it doesn't, well then I gave $25 to somebody who needed it a whole lot more than I do.

The amount loaned, of course, is entirely flexible -- but the base asking price seems to be $25 so I went with that.  The people say what it will be used for, and there are in most cases institutions doing due diligence on them (you can see who's involved in the ask).

Requests are broken into categories:  education, agriculture, women, arts, etc etc and you can read through and pick what you want to contribute to (it also shows the total ask of the loan and how much has been sourced).

So I started with the "women" category, because I'm very sensitive to the fact that while we *still* have equality challenges here, they are significantly worse in other parts of the world.   And there were a couple I could see myself supporting, but so many were "for my son" or "for my husband" which, to me, is playing the system.

So then I tried the education category, because similarly, women's education is something I care about.  But again there was a ton of "for my son", "for my husband", etc etc.   Never "for my daughter".   Which I found not surprising, but disheartening.   But then I found a "for my sister" that was a man who it seems had to drop out of school to help his father support the family, but was trying to get enough money to keep his sister in school.  It is a verified one (although of course I only know so much about the verifier, but better than nothing).  So I contributed to that one, and we'll see how it goes.

Did roll my eyes though, when I was poking around the site and it shows what you've contributed in various charts (location, category, etc) -- under gender, it shows 100% male.  Because, of course, it was a man who was seeking the loan, even though the beneficiary is a woman (or I think actually a girl -- it listed primary/high school level).  Lol ah well - if my $25 can help a girl in Lebanon get an education, I'm all for it.  And since it is a loan (interest free), when it comes back, it can go help someone else after.

But yeah - I do like that it's a loan rather than straight charity and encouraging self-sufficiency and development.   There were some asks that I would definitely question but a lot were for money to buy a second cow, or a sewing machine to improve a seamstresses output, or farming equipment...   That kind of thing that you can see how it would legitimately pay itself back and improve the recipient's life at least a tiny bit...

Reading through the asks both put first world problems firmly in their place, while somehow simultaneously highlighting the similarities that cross distance, religion, race, and gender.  People wanting to grow their business and needing seed funding, people trying to afford a better life for their kids, people who need specialized equipment to help with a disability, all very relatable.  Even if we have only the vaguest understanding of what their lives are really like.

If you've used it before, or give it a try, let me know how it goes!


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