Sunday, November 16, 2008

Reservations About Kiva Gifts

One of my friends wrote me today for advice on Kiva. Please comment here with your thoughts. For context, my friend does research on sustainable fisheries in the Philippines, so she knows what she's talking about:

I'm interested in giving my family 'presents' in the form of money to spend on Kiva, but I really want to make sure that the projects Kiva supports/advertises are 'good'. They should be sustainable! I've heard lots of nightmares about lending programs from developed to developing countries and seen 1st hand the destruction they cause when, for example, rural, uneducated people get 'loans' to 'develop' and really don't realize they will have to pay the money back in the end. That is much more of a World Bank model and Kiva seems to be better at that, but when I found this I started to wonder again. Tell me if you can see why I think this is a very bad idea.

I think that the idea of microfinance is great, but I'm not convinced that it works yet. All these devleoped country people who feel great having contributed to what they think is a worthy cause may just be contributing to the ultimate demise of the people they thought they were helping.

Do you know of any other organizations that have a better 'sustainability' check on the programs they support?


1 comment:

Justin said...

(1) Sustainability is obviously essential in the long-term. But if a community chooses to prioritize economic growth in the short, it is not my place to tell them otherwise. I have, after all, plenty to eat, access to healthcare and as much education as I can stuff myself with.

(2) Ok, even if you agree with that what's wrong with prioritizing loans that promote both growth and sustainability? Fine, but should Kiva centralize such decisions, or should they be made by (a) on the ground lending institutions and (b) individual donors like us?

Though now that I think about it, it wouldn't hurt if Kiva made it easy for lenders to share and discuss such opinions with other lenders...