Various forms of attitude adjustment have been visited upon me of late, and I'm not entirely sure why, except for the obvious point that continuing to go through the motions is not at all emotionally satisfying, and if there's anything for which I'm desperate these days, it's emotional satisfaction. With that in mind, here is Denia's story:
Denia works hard to support four children. She is married and has a general store business in the Philippines.
Ten thousand Philippine pesos equals about $225 US, which she will repay over the next 12 months or so. Twenty-five of those dollars will be repaid to, um, me.
I've talked about microfinance before. From ten years ago:
The Nobel Prize for Peace, in a stunning disregard of recent tradition, was awarded to deserving recipients: Grameen Bank and its founder Muhammad Yunus, pioneers in the field of micro-credit.
Muhammad Yunus was lecturing at Stanford in 2005, and Matt Flannery and Jessica Jackley (later married, now not) were listening. The following year, they set up Kiva — Swahili for "unity" — as a US-based microfinance operation. Kiva itself charges no interest or other fees, though its "field partners," such as NWTF, do collect interest from the borrowers; Yunus, among others, raises an eyebrow at this practice, though Kiva does point out that there is inevitably risk involved in any loan. (NWTF itself rates Denia's transaction at four stars out of a possible five.) That said, somewhere around 98 percent of Kiva loans are repaid, which tells me that folks in Third World poverty seem to be a better risk than, say, certain American billionaires.
Kiva is currently run by former PayPal executive Premal Shah, which probably explains why PayPal works to promote Kiva as a charity option for its user base. They sent me a note earlier this year: "PayPal & microlending pioneer, Kiva.org, are celebrating 10 years of collaboration. Make a loan to an entrepreneur by October 10th, get a $25 Kiva credit to create more impact." Truth be told, I'm not really concerned about getting that credit; on the other hand, I figure that I'm doing a good thing helping Denia pay for her bathroom improvements. Inasmuch as various folks have kicked in about $3200 toward my medical bills and such this year — ah, the miracle of crowdfunding — I consider this a way to pay some of that forward.
If I'm understanding the schedule correctly, Denia is paying back 217 PHP ($4.50 US) a week; once a month, starting in December, NWTF will disburse either $18 or $22.50 (depending on the number of Wednesdays in the month, it appears) to the lenders (seven besides me). She will have paid back the entire loan in September 2017. I suppose I can roll this over more or less indefinitely; there will always be people out there in the Teeming Milieu who need small loans, and it's not like I'm so hard up at the moment that I can't spare twenty-five bucks. Besides, I can remember times when I was.
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