Jun. 10th, 2009 11:38 am
waywardcats: (Default)
So the educated guess was correct, and Kiva launched loans to entrepreneurs in the US this morning.

I couldn't resist this loan, cause I do like board games, and they are in San Francisco, and one of the guys works with people with disabilities and they are veterans, and yeah, anyway, it's a long term, but nice loan.

Erik and Shane seem an unlikely pair to run a board game shop. Shane works as a behavioral specialist for people with disabilities at a local non-profit while Erik is a veteran of the Iraq War with a background in sales. But they share a love of board games, and opened Just Awesome to provide the community with a family-friendly game store. While serving in the Air Force, Erik learned a game from a young Iraqi which he developed into Just Awesome! He donates all of the proceeds from this game to Operation Iraqi Children. Just Awesome! will also pay to ship any board games to American troops serving overseas.

With a thoughtful business plan and a passion for their product, Shane and Erik are new entrepreneurs poised for success. They will use their $7,500 loan for advertising and inventory.


Honestly i didn't think I would want to make a loan in the US when they became available, but sometimes you just gotta go with the flow...

waywardcats: (double door)
Kiva, the online lending platform which has previously served developing countries is making a big announcement tomorrow on Good Morning America.  I don't want to steal their thunder, but as someone who follows their activity closely over at Kiva Friends i am pretty sure I know what it will be. 

I recommend that if you want to check out Kiva to make a loan to an entrepreneur in the developing world you might want to go there today, before they get bombarded tomorrow.  However, if you are interested in making a loan to an entrepreneur closer to home, well tomorrow could well be the day for you.

waywardcats: (Nile Fishermen)
Kiva is looking for a few Bay Area folks to host members of their new class of Kiva Fellows. They will be in town for training from September 14th - 19th.   Would you consider hosting one of them?

 Kiva fellows are volunteers who travel to one of the countries that Kiva serves to work directly with the field partners.  They are dynamic people from all over the world who are giving 10+ weeks of their time and effort to learn the ins and outs of microfinance. These are people who are going to be headed out into the developing world on a life-changing journey.  Wouldn't it be great to get to know them a little bit, and then follow them through their blog posts as they go through their fellowship?

I have offered my couch, if you have the space, won't you consider extending your hospitality to one of these folks ?  Email kivafellows at kiva dot org if you are willing to open you home to a volunteer.
waywardcats: (Nile Fishermen)
Well, Matt Flannery visited the KivaFriends site a short time ago to clarify the issue of the pet pictures.  I love his reply so much, I want to share it with you...

"Hey Everyone.  Given that this thread has my name in it, I had to respond!

One point I wanted to make here is that I don't think anyone on Kiva should feel bad for using a cat as an avatar.  Using animals on social web sites is pretty much well accepted net etiquette and it's natural that it's happening at Kiva too.  It's something I've known about and thought about for a long time.

I just heard the catfood story a couple weeks ago and I thought it was a great anecdote.  I blogged about it because it made a big impact on me and also because I like sharing pertinent and potentially controversial stories on my blog.  I also think the story brings to light a tension in our business.

There is the tension surrounding whether Kiva is truly "p2p" or not and whether the borrowers are being treated like commodities or not.  It's obvious that Kiva is not "p2p" in the purest sense, because there are intermediaries (MFIs).  When we started, the Kiva web experience was very personal and connected.  In the last 1.5 yrs, it's become less personal.  As we've scaled fast, much of the personal touch has been lost and the borrowers have little voice on the site.  That's something that hopefully we can rectify in the future.  As borrowers get further away form the website, the more they can seem like commodities that are bought and sold without a voice.  A previous poster mentioned something to this effect and I share the concern.  Hopefully we can resuscitate any personality temporarily lost under rapid growth.


Hopefully the conversation will therefore move in the direction of the more pressing issue.
waywardcats: (Nile Fishermen)

Matt Flannery one of the founders of Kiva recently wrote a very interesting blog post  titled Catfood and Commoditization which tread very lightly on the concept of cultural sensitivity.


A discussion followed on the KivaFriends forum in which some people found the subject trivial, while other felt upset that they were being asked to remove their beloved pet photo from their lender profile.


As I see it though, the pet anecdote took the focus from the real subject that Matt raised in his title and yet never expanded on; that being the idea of commoditization of the Kiva entrepreneurs.  In economic theory, commoditization occurs as a goods or services market loses differentiation across its supply base.  This would be a very bad thing to have the individuals requesting support for their livelihoods through Kiva and its partners considered commodities by their lenders.


This is the introduction to visitors to

Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.


Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world.


The people you see on Kiva's site are real individuals in need of funding - not marketing material. When you browse entrepreneurs' profiles on the site, choose someone to lend to, and then make a loan, you are helping a real person make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their family, and their community.

 My concern with the reaction to Matt’s blog by the folks at KivaFriends is that many of the people who spend time there are very frequent loaners.  Some of the posts there do in fact verge upon treating loans as commodities.  It is hard when you have to keep a spreadsheet to keep track of your loans to recall that there are people on the other side of that data.  It makes it difficult to recall that those real, unique individuals are receiving a loan that can help them to improve their quality of life in a very real way, and that they might be interested in the real, unique individual who has taken an interest in their lives.  In a real way, the KivaFriends enthusiasm for help others through microfinance seems to be interfering with their ability to focus on the Kiva mission.


I am very interested in posting about this subject at KivaFriends, but I can see it getting tangled up in the pet pictures anecdote again.  I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts and suggestions as outsiders to this issue, if you have the interest and the time.


waywardcats: (Default)

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