Jessica was interviewed at the Leadership Summit last week. I’d heard about Kiva before that hour, but I’d not paid all that much attention to the story or the strategy. Last week I listened. I was taken in by three aspects of this venture and found myself compelled to at least try it for myself.
First, my mind was captured by the idea itself — the simplicity and the goodness of it. Invite people to make small loans directly to people who need those loans. Use systems already in place for part of that process and build systems for others parts (but only when a system is necessary). Charge a low interest on those loans so that repayment is possible. Make these loans to those who can’t secure regular bank loans — the hard-working poor.
Besides the goodness of the idea, my hear was captured by the stories of people who have been and continue to be impacted by this simple idea. Here is Lourdes Arambulo’s story:
Lourdes Arambuloo, who lives in the island village in the town of Binangonan, Rizal Province in the Philippines, is a woman of courage who maintains hope in her ability to rise above poverty. Happily married to Felix, a 37-year-old fisherman and her business partner, she is a mother to three boys and a girl.
Lourdes joined ASHI (Ahon Sa Hirap, Inc.), an MFI and KIVA partner in the Philippines, in 1999, and during her ten years as a member of ASHI, she has been noted for her exemplary performance in meeting her obligations in the organization. Her previous loans were carefully used as rolling capital for her fishing business. Because fishing allows her to earn just enough income for her family needs, she recently ventured into raising pigs, an enterprise that will bring her enough profit to save for the future of her children. Fishing will now become her secondary business.
She is now requesting her ninth loan, 45,000 pesos to pay for 10 piglets, 26 sacks of assorted feeds, vitamins and transportation expenses. Lourdes is hopeful that the trust and opportunity given by ASHI and KIVA, coupled with hard work, will allow her to reach her dreams of expanding her business, sending her children to school, and building a new and more spacious house.
Really, who doesn’t want to be a part of that kind of healthy development?
And then there is the Spirit of God speaking to me and saying “this is one way.” I’ve often asked what it looks like in our context and our world for a person like me to live out the clear commands from Scripture like those in Isaiah 58. “Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness…”
I’ve blogged before and will again about how Bible translation (the work/ministry in which I’m investing myself deeply through my vocation) fulfills this mandate. So you see, it’s not that I’ve never had an answer or a way to do this before. I’ve had myriad opportunities (and have even taken a few of those) to be a part of removing yokes of oppression and of helping those in trouble. Kiva provides one more way — a way that I’m exploring through participation right now.
Join me if you’d like.