Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Kiva Group Loans

My favorite way to help people on the other side of the world is Kiva. Kiva gives out microloans to entrepreneurs. These microloans help people in the developing world get past bottlenecks in development. For example, I headed back to Kiva today because one of my previous loans, to Dr. Sykes Alma Ally, was repaid. Dr. Ally runs a pharmacy, and took out a microloan to increase her inventory. By having a wider inventory, she was able to rapidly grow her business. Inside of a year, she paid back me and the others who loaned to her.

One of Kiva's neat innovations is group loans. The idea is that a handful of close friends, who are all entrepreneurs, take out a loan together, all agreeing to take responsibility if one defaults.

I like Kiva because it is dignifying. It is not a charity; at the end of the loan term, I get my money back. By humanizing hardworking people, Kiva keeps me from feeling like a hero so much as a friend. In addition, group loans promote partnership and trust among people in the developing world. These relationships, moreso than raw resources, are what will bring the stability needed to restore poor communities.

Yesterday, I saw an article by Halden at InhabitioDei, "Incarnational Ministry?"; he says,
I have a few problems with such notions. Primarily, talking about ministry as incarnational presupposes that I, the minister, am the one doing the incarnating. In other words, I am the one in a position of power condescending to the realities of the mass of persons to whom I seek to minister. In short, I get to be Jesus and they get to be the needy saps in need of salvation which I am only too happy to provide, being a beneficent minister as I am.
I suppose that in proper incarnational ministry, rather than the minister acting as a proxy for Jesus, the minister would be a friend to the needy, and, rather than being so much a minister, he would be another person in need of grace. Rather than becoming incarnate quite like Jesus became incarnate, he would join with the weak by becoming weak, anticipating the Holy Spirit to give them strength and provision. I like Kiva because it, in some way, diminishes heroism and generates partnership.

I still feel very inconsistent and artificial; I'm not genuinely a partner with the poor, if I'm living comfortably with the luxuries I have. I helped Dr. Ally a little by sharing a couple of bucks I wouldn't have made better use of otherwise but she's the one actually living with and helping, directly, the people in her community.


  1. this is very cool. I'm curious why this microloan system shouldn't be implemented in all nations; developed or not there are always those with competence and no resources


  2. As long as there are no religious overtones with the gift, it's fine by me. I remember this one group at my high school was trying to send Bibles to areas of Africa and Asia where the population is predominantly Muslim. Er...

    I believe that was the problem the blog you quoted might have had with such charities.

  3. I've loaned some money with Kiva as well - it's currently being paid back. I love the idea for much the same reasons you do. I think charitable giving is great, of course. But these microloans are helping people support themselves, which is even better. And I like that I can either get my money back if I need/want it, or keep repeatedly putting it back into the system to help someone else.

    Not to mention that these days, putting my money in mutual funds or something is much riskier than loaning it to people who need it more than I do.

    I have a new blog, btw. :)

    Hope you're doing well!