Wednesday, 11 January 2012


As a supporter of Kiva, I am rather biased about the role of microfunding. I want to know that I'm spending my money on suitable things. And, of course, if I honest, there's a chance I'm putting it in entirely the wrong place. I'm helping to "shovel haystacks off the deck of the Lusitania" as a wise man once said.

So I'm eyeing carefully this article about microlending, and am reading through slowly this series of articles about Kiva in particular. There look to be two main issues here.

One, the money I submit is not the money used to give the loan to the people that I'm nominally funding. Kiva (and associated lenders) 'pre-distribute' funds, because the loanees shouldn't have to wait around to be judged by other well-off people around the world if their particular situation is worth the money they are asking for. Thus the money I'm giving is really going to the lenders to use for other lending situations. (I admit I prefer to fund some ventures over others, so hopefully the money is going for similar projects to what got my money, but I have no control over that.) Ultimately, though, I'm giving money and money is being lent to people who need it, so that's good.

Or is it? Point two is that there is discussion, such as in that link above, about whether or not those lenders are actually benefiting societies, and helping them. Yes, individual people, but are the collective people better off? The discussion seems... not entirely resolved on it. On one side, there are better places to fund, we should be focusing on helping people save, society needs helping not people..., on the other they are still helping poor people...

For now, I'll continual to support Kiva... but I'm going to read those articles, and would like a more clear cut answer to this issue.


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