Anxiously engaged in a good cause

D&C 58:27-28 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

The concept of microcredit was introduced to me many years ago when I was in college. For some reason, I’d seen a flyer in the BYU Kennedy Center (not a normal hangout for me) about a guest speaker, who had come one evening to talk about microcredit. I’ve long since forgotten why I went to that lecture – well written flyer? suggested by a friend or professor? – but I went and was introduced to the concept, which was entirely new to me.

What is microcredit?

“Microcredit is the extension of very small loans (microloans) to those in poverty designed to spur entrepreneurship. These individuals lack collateral, steady employment and a verifiable credit history and therefore cannot meet even the most minimal qualifications to gain access to traditional credit. … Microcredit is a financial innovation that is generally considered to have originated with the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. In that country, it has successfully enabled extremely impoverished people to engage in self-employment projects that allow them to generate an income and, in many cases, begin to build wealth and exit poverty.” [source]

I found microcredit fascinating when I went to that sparsely attended evening lecture. The speaker – his identity long since lost to me Ahrun Ghandi of the Grameen Bank – spoke of the good it had done in its limited use to that point, and of how much good it could do. I wanted to help, but didn’t know how. This was a year or two pre-internet (a world I can no longer grok), so it’s not like I could just look it up on Google. So I continued on with my life.

Last year, FMH blogged about kiva.org, and I remembered that lecture. I signed up immediately and have been an active participant ever since. I hope I have helped some people. When you loan an amount (as small as $25, with multiple people contributing to one loan), it is eventually paid back into your account. You can either withdraw it or, as most people seem to do, loan that amount back to someone else.

One interesting thing that Kiva has for lenders is lending teams. It’s an entirely optional component if you chose to loan via Kiva, but it can serve as a way to encourage members of the team to more fully participate in the lending process. The team I ultimately settled on was Kiva Mormons. It’s a relatively large group (272, as I type this). On the first of each month, the Kiva Mormons group has an “everyone lend day”, where they encourage everyone to loan on that day. I sometimes loan on that day and sometimes not. Sometimes I loan on a different day. Sometimes I don’t loan for a few months. How much you loan or with what frequency is entirely up to you. When you make a loan, you can count it with a group you have joined, and though there is no benefit to anyone in the group to have a loan counted other than a rising number on a screen, seeing that number rise can also be motivational.

So if you’re looking for something good to do, Kiva is a good option. I participate as a lone person. Some people participate as a family, with their children selecting the next person they will loan to (you can read short profiles from recipients all over the world, seeing what they have planned for their loan). Some people participate as a Relief Society group. I’m sure there are other ways. And if you decide to participate, feel free to join the Kiva Mormons group. (FMH also keeps a Kiva widget on their sidebar, if you’d like to join their group.)

To learn more about kiva.org, see their About page.

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About Tanya Spackman

Tanya was born in Provo, Utah, on a warm July day. After escaping childhood with nothing more than a few scrapes and bruises (except for 5 stitches - oh, and that incident with the staple in the thumb), she graduated from BYU with a degree in molecular biology. Before graduation, she served a mission in Chicago. As graduation neared, she decided lab work really wasn't her thing, and she had no interest in research or teaching (but really, molecular biology is interesting), so she decided to attempt the world of technical writing. Thus, she now works as a technical writer/editor for the Navy in Washington, DC. She loves to read and travel.

9 thoughts on “Anxiously engaged in a good cause

  1. Tanya,

    I read the same FMH post on Kiva (wonderful post, btw). I was impressed by what I read and made a donation, thinking it was merely a gift. I suppose I should log back in to Kiva and re-loan the money I have not missed.

  2. I love Kiva. To anyone who is blessed enough to have at least $25 sitting around unused, Kiva is such a great way to help the world and since it’s a loan and not a hand out, you get it all back… I love that it isn’t a handout, but that you are helping people get past some of those hurdles when starting or expanding their business. And in a country where the average income is $1500, you adding a mere $25 to a $1000 loan has a huge impact. Thanks for posting the info!

  3. Tanya, microcredits are a wonderful testament to the power of free will, enterprise and the wonders of the market. Thanks for reminding us of that.

  4. Tanya, the speaker was Ahrun Ghandi, the grandson of THE Ghandi. I was at that same lecture. :) His organzation is the Grameen Bank (I know I spelled that wrong, it’s been along time). They also do microcredit loans in India and Bangladesh.

  5. I am a huge proponent of Cooperation Theory and this sounds like an excellent opportunity to cooperate. Thank you very much for the article, links, and insight. People can change the world together and I believe these micro loans also encourage stewardship.

  6. I have been a KIVA donor since Dec 2008 and it is the most wonderful experience. The recipient is given a loan to help build a business or increase supplies for a business or whatever is needed to help make themselves more self-sufficient. This is not a hand-out, but a hand-in-hand venture to make life better. The donor takes only a small risk of default (current rate is 1.39% default), and feels connected to their recipients and feels like a difference has been made. What a wonderful set of results for only $25 (the price of 2 or 3 movie tickets that rarely live up to the value). I recommend this microcredit organization to everyone!!!!

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