An Update on the Kiva Micro-Finance Experiment, Part II

Last September, I introduced you to Kiva, the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending initiative in a post where I posed the question Can Micro-Finance Make a Macro-Difference? after being referred to the site by a fellow hoser.

In an attempt to answer that question, I decided to conduct an experiment. Since last July, I have been making two loans a month under the hypothesis that if it works, after a year I will have enough capital in the Kiva system to help a new person every month as previous micro-loans get re-payed. To date, the doctor has made twenty $25 Kiva micro-loans (which get bundled with other micro-loans to fund loans to individuals and groups through Kiva’s micro-finance partners). The loans are:

Individual Institution Total Loan Loan Funded Disbursed Repayment Term Repaid to Date*
Gulchehra Rahimova LLC MLO Humo and Partners 1,175 June 28, 2008 July 12, 2008 12 months 67%
Din Ly CREDIT (World Relief) 250 June 28, 2008 July 12, 2008 18 months 44%
Araba Awotwe Christian Rural Aid Network (CRAN) 350 August 14, 2008 August 28, 2008 7 months 100%
Serigne Cisse UIMCEC (Christian Children’s Fund) 975 August 15, 2008 August 29, 2008 12 months 58%
Mavluda Tosheva LLC MLO Humo and Partners 450 September 1, 2008 September 15, 2008 12 months 50%
Mario Aguilar Fundacion Paraguaya 475 September 1, 2008 September 15, 2008 11 months 55%
Irene Microfinanzas PRISMA 1,200 October 11, 2008 October 25, 2008 6 months 83%
Sokhna Sene UIMCEC (Christian Children’s Fund) 300 November 1, 2008 November 15, 2008 12 months 33%
Essoneya Tchindo WAGES 300 November 1, 2008 November 15, 2008 12 months 33%
Guillermo Microfinanzas PRISMA 325 November 1, 2008 November 15, 2008 10 months 40%
Olinda Microfinanzas PRISMA 325 November 27, 2008 October 31, 2008 6 months 67%
Sron Chea Group AMK 200 November 27, 2008 October 28, 2008 4 months 100%
Kayi Lawson Microfund Togo 1,175 January 2, 2009 November 17, 2008 18 months 11%
Abdulhokim Azimov LLC MLO Humo and Partners 600 January 3, 2009 January 17, 2009 10 months 20%
Feliciana Llano Ramirez Manuela Ramos / CrediMUJER 475 Feb 4, 2009 Jan 15, 2009 5 months 67%
Atta Ofori Sinapi Aba Trust (SAT) 525 Feb 4, 2009 Jan 26, 2009 10 months 14%
Moeun Sileng CREDIT, a partner of World Relief 1200 Mar 1, 2009 Feb 12, 2009 21 months 6%
Mohammad Ameen s.a.l. 1200 Mar 1, 2009 Feb 5, 2009 15 months 8%
Daniel Adu Sinapi Aba Trust (SAT) 725 Apr 5, 2009 Mar 26, 2009 8 months 0%
Adetokunbo Fajuke Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO) 500 Apr 6, 2009 Apr 20, 2009 10 months 0%
Averages   636     11 months  

Since my last update in January, where I presented an interim verdict that Kiva appeared to be great, based on the fact that all loans over 3 months old had partial repayments, I’m happy to say that Kiva beat my expectations. I expected that it would take 13 or 14 months to reach the point where the repayments coming in would be enough to guarantee at least one new (minimum) loan of $25 every month, and preferably two, when, in fact, it only took 10 months! As of this month, the cumulative repayments coming in for the month are enough to make two new $25 loans next month.

Conclusion? While the site continues to disclaim (in the footer of every page) that lending to the working poor through Kiva involves risk of principal loss, Kiva is working great. And in this economy, it’s less risky than investing in the stock market and mortgage funds, especially since an investment in Kiva last year would have resulted in your principal being returned to you, while those of us with market-based investments (stocks, mutual funds, 401Ks, RRSPs, etc.) are finding them (considerably) underwater at this time.

Thus, I would still encourage you, if you’re still lucky enough to have any discretionary funds left, to take part of them and try lending through the Kiva platform. Considering that you can start for $25, or the cost of one good bottle of wine (at the liquor store and not your local 300% mark-up restaurant), it’s an endeavor that the vast majority of us should be able to afford. And if even half of the 1.2B people in the developed world made even one loan a year, think of the sustainable difference it could make. That’s something worth aiming for. And if you do lend, remember to tell them that jeff <at> hosernews <dot> ca sent you (because one should give credit where credit is due). (And if you’re a fellow hoser, you can even consider joining his team.)

And remember, there is a supply chain lesson here for all of us. If a good supplier is in trouble in these hard financial times, key customers can band together to keep it financially solvent until times improve through faster payments, guaranteed orders, and low-interest loans. And, in addition to the good feeling these customers will get from knowing they did right, they can also secure long-term capacity from a strategic supplier. Let’s face it — most business people want to do the right thing when given the choice, and many will be quite happy to sign a long term contract or guarantee if you help to bail them out. This means that if you stick by a good supplier when it’s having a bad day, it’ll stick by you through thick and thin.

*As of April 22, 2009