Dec 24, 2008

Kiva


This isn't particularly Catholic, except that maybe I'm beginning to understand our Christian obligations more. In any case, Kiva.org is a remarkable organization in at least a couple ways - they employ micro-finance principles to aid entrepreneurs in developing countries, and they make excellent use of online technology to do so. We highlighted them in my International Aid and Development class in college.

One of our good friends gave us a $25 gift certificate to Kiva and I think it's one of the best gifts we've ever received. I've admired Kiva for a while but have never spent the time or effort to get involved with it; this small amount is really inspiring me to do more.

UPDATE: Wow. When I picked Margaret (above), she had 0% of her requested loan. In the 1-2 hours it took to get this blog post up, she received 100% of it. Go Kiva! Go Margaret!

3 comments:

Saint said...

I discovered them from another friend not too long ago. Great website!

Matt said...

I really apprecieat Kiva. It is a brilliant and rewarding concept. I was alerted to it on NPR one day and did a little more digging while researching for a school project. It provides a great service. That's for sure.

My question is, just for the sake of discussion, would you consider providing loans to entrepreneurs on Kiva an act of charity?

luke said...

Hmm. That's an interesting thought. To be sure, microfinance helps almost every recipient. C.S. Lewis wrote, "here is where we want the christian economist," in regard to deciding whether interest-based lending is moral or not. Though this is a different issue, I may go ahead and apply my amateur theological and economical opinion ...

Considering the economic concept of opportunity cost, loans can technically constitute charity based on the fact that you could rather just plop the money in a bank where you could earn personal profit on it. I actually don't know if kiva loans make profit or not, but I know kiva encourages lenders to re-loan their money when their previous loans mature.

That sorts touches on what I think may be the real determining feature - if you lend thru kiva to profit, it's probably safe to say it's not any kind of charity. ;)