Wednesday, October 29, 2008

All About KMET

One of our earliest loans with Kiva is to a group in Kenya called Runyenjes Community Based Distributors Group.

Trish, I know you and Dan joined me on this loan and it sounded very interesting and had a really good write-up. But still, I had many questions back in February about the size of the group and what they actually did and why the loan was for 24 months and on and on. Since that time I have hung around the KivaFriends forum and found some of the answers.

Today, one of the Kiva Fellows just newly arrived in Kisumu, Kenya has posted on the Kiva Stories from the Field blog. She says "I continue to see each day the work the organization does and how it strives to create innovative and practical solutions for vulnerable people". Sarah also included this link to a K-MET video. I want to share this video with all of you. It is 10 minutes long, but I felt it was worth my time.

I will continue to watch for KMET loans to be posted on

later man, jan

Monday, October 27, 2008

Slavery is Outlawed but still persists...

I can't think of anything more horrifying than the fact that slavery still exists in our world. Many hundreds of thousands of people around the world live in degrading conditions in rural areas where they have no schooling and therefore don't even know that laws exist to protect their human rights. That it is against the law to be taken at the age of 12 and raped and made to bear a man's child. Many countries appear to have passed laws to keep the neighbours happy but are doing nothing to actually enforce the laws within their borders.

BBC News today announced that ex-Slave Hadijatou Mani has finally won her case and the government of Niger is required to pay compensation to her for failing to protect her. She was 'freed' but then jailed for bigamy in 2005 because her 'master' claimed they were married. Anti-Slavery International has been helping her with her case.

In a country like Niger, where slavery is outlawed but still common, this case has been an ongoing example of the bravery of one woman. She wants her children to be raised as free people.

In another article she says "I am very thankful for this decision. It was very difficult to challenge my former master and to speak out when people see you as nothing more than a slave," Ms Mani said.

"With the compensation I will be able to build a house, raise animals and farm land to support my family. I will also be able to send my children to school so they can have the education I was never allowed."

I wish this lady nothing but peace and prosperity for the rest of her life. I would love to be able to lend her some money through Kiva or possibly send some education money for her children through Education Generation. I tell myself that each person we help out of poverty will bring this world one step closer to health and happiness for everyone.

later man, jan

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bible In a Minute

Remember your bible? :) Here's the words...

Bible in a Minute

Earth Made, Adam, Eve
Cain Kills Abel, Has to Leave
Boring geneology,
Great Flood, Olive Leaf.

Tower Babel, Abraham
Sodom and Gomorrah and
Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses
Ten Commands, Promised Land.

Judges, David, Solomon
Sent away to Babylon
Job, then a bunch of Psalms
Proverbs and the Song of Songs

Major Prophets, Lion Den
Minor Prophets, Bethlehem.
Gold and Myrrh and Frankincense
Satan and Samaritan

Choose Disciples, Other Cheek,
Walk on Water, Thousands Eat
Lazarus, Fig Tree
Last Supper, Gethsemane

Blood Money, Third Denial
Pontius Pilate, Public Trial
Fourty Lashes, To The Tree
Why Have You Forsaken Me?

Third Day, Empty Tomb
Reappears, Five Wounds
Acts of the Apostles Next
Epistles and Apolcalypse.

These guys are good - and very crazy and sometimes funny :)
I also loved the Mother's Day one...

later man, jan

Monday, October 20, 2008

World Challenge 2008 - have you voted?

"Now in its fourth year, World Challenge 08 is a global competition aimed at finding projects or small businesses from around the world that have shown enterprise and innovation at a grass roots level. World Challenge 08 is brought to you by BBC World News and Newsweek, in association with Shell, and is about championing and rewarding projects and business which really make a difference. The winner will receive a grant of USD $20,000 to put back into their project/business, and two runners up will each receive USD $10,000."

I would like to ask you to spend some time at their home page where you will find links to short videos and stories about each finalist. Each one is a very worthy project and will do wonderful things with their winnings.

Our personal vote went to the Agriculture School in Paraguay because this is a project of FundaciĆ³n Paraguaya who are partners in microfinance with Kiva. FundaciĆ³n Paraguaya says they are...
"a self-sustaining social enterprise which promotes entrepreneurship in urban and rural areas through three inter-related strategies:
1) A Microfinance Program aimed at smaller microentrepreneurs and emerging microentrepreneurs, who are generally neglected by other microfinance institutions
2) An economic education program for children and youth (Junior Achievement)
3) A self-sufficient agricultural high school, which teaches organic agriculture and entrepreneurial skills to low-income youth from rural areas, transforming them from “poor campesinos” into “rural entrepreneurs”."
The three programs are separate in budgetary and financial terms, but are closely integrated at the operational level so that each program enriches, and is enriched by, the other two.

Take some time, but please vote and let the BBC and Newsweek and Shell know that many people are watching and we approve of this kind of news.

later man, jan

Thursday, October 16, 2008

for Nonny

The Long Tail - by Bill Brick in Uganda

“I plan to end our relationship with Kiva next week, unless … (rattles off a laundry list of consequential things for Kiva to change immediately). I like Kiva very much - nice people, very smart, hard-working, doing fine things. Kiva has served our needs well. But I’m afraid we’ve graduated beyond Kiva. I’m not sure how you can help me, or even why you are here.”

Sometimes the most auspicious beginning is the best ending in disguise. And so my Fellowship with BRAC Uganda began. And ended. No Brick at BRAC.

My road to Kampala began nearly 7 months ago. In actuality, it probably began several years earlier when I was discovering myself among peasants in the slums of South America and Asia. Since submitting my application in March, volunteering with Kiva has dominated my conscious and much of my activity. I’ve shuffled my career, learned how to blog, let my pilot’s license lapse, undergone exhaustive Kiva training and now, I’m allowing the fall surfing season in Northern California to slip past and, mainly, I’ve left behind my life’s love (and her sweet but unusual dog). To be a Fellow is to sacrifice and adapt, fluidly. We have trained and prepared for the unexpected; make no mistake, this is the third world.

A poignant question indeed: why am I here, and how can I help? Standing at the precipice of the unknown is, I suppose, as addicting as it is unsettling - self doubt chases excitement; anticipation wrestles with fear. What drives us to explore? We come for cause, yes, but what is it really we hope to gain? What drives these ambitions? But I realize such abstractions are only distractions. Answers will reveal themselves in time, but only once in Uganda, boots on dirt, working hand-in-glove with BRAC…reducing poverty…learning a new culture…leaving Uganda in better shape than I found it. I feel my youth reawakened! And so in the days leading up to my departure, my singular and most tangible goal was to engage deeply in this enterprise and immerse myself entirely in my occupation, with purpose and conviction.

As this unexpected, discouraging and indeed demoralizing dialog with Mr. Arif, BRAC’s Country Director, concluded, I wanted to know what “graduated beyond Kiva” meant. To learn this, I had to learn about BRAC (as best I could while cordially being shown the door).

BRAC is a pioneering international development organization that began operations in Bangladesh as a small-scale relief and rehabilitation project in 1972 (a few years before the inception of it’s more famous neighbor, Grameen Bank) to help the country overcome the devastation of the liberation war. Its primary focus was on the resettlement of refugees returning from India. Today, BRAC is an independent, self-financed standard in sustainable human development. It is one of the largest Southern development organizations employing over 100,000 people and working with the twin objectives of poverty alleviation and empowerment of the poor, especially women. Diagnosing poverty in human terms and recognizing its multifaceted nature, BRAC approaches poverty alleviation with a holistic approach, providing a comprehensive, integrated suite of programs for income and wealth creation, education, health care and business training. BRAC does much more than make loans. The idea is to employ tools like microfinance to reduce poverty today, and programs like primary education for girls to halt poverty’s perpetuance in the future.

BRAC’s successful story over the years has been guided by its vision of “a just, enlightened, healthy and democratic society free from hunger, poverty, environmental degradation and all forms of exploitation based on age, sex, religion and ethnicity.” Most recently, BRAC expanded its development interventions beyond its borders into Central Asia and Africa. Uganda is the first country BRAC expanded into outside of Asia, and has serves as its flagship branch in Africa. BRAC began working with Kiva shortly after it established its initial footprint in Africa. Sometime within the next year, BRAC in Uganda will grow to nearly 100 branches, with over 800 employees and a gross loan portfolio of $28 million, and will serve over 100,000 clients. Wall Street, take notice: BRAC Uganda’s loan portfolio is performing with 0% defaults!

BRAC’s “target market” is the lower 50% of the impoverished; the poorest of the poor, many rejected or ignored by competing MFI’s. While global in scale, it operates in the grassroots and very much on a personal level. BRAC is exceptionally well-managed, keenly focused on process, efficiency, cost control, productivity, sound business practices and, of course, results. Its discipline to these principles explains BRAC’s impressive track record in Uganda, which in turn demonstrates that BRAC can successfully and swiftly emerge into new regions beyond Asia. Success begets success; recently, the Clinton Global Initiative made a multi-hundred million dollar investment in BRAC, and many other institutions have taken notice and are following suite (both not- and for-profit organizations). Kudos to Kiva for recognizing a diamond in the rough and making an early investment in its potential.

Membership in BRAC is a badge of honor. To its group members, it represents a chance to strive towards positive change in their quality of life, knowing that something big has their back, and understands their plight and is putting its core resources in support of them, their businesses and their vision for the future.

In short, BRAC Uganda probably has outgrown Kiva, and that’s good news.

“You see, Bill, Kiva may not charge me interest, but its money is not without cost.” Mr. Arif continues, “My business has scaled dramatically in the past year and I can no longer absorb the operational costs of funding individual loans with Kiva. I’m now able to borrow in very large sums, and very efficiently.”

I then recall The Long Tail discussion from our training in San Francisco a few weeks ago; it’s then I see that this is not a loss for the Kiva ecosystem, but an intended right of passage, much like college matriculation. Bittersweet perhaps, but triumphant. Huh? Let me explain.

Kiva recognizes that the internet is a promising vehicle to reduce costs, build capacity and distribute risk in Tier 2 - Tier 4 MFIs, broadly defined as young and/or local MFI’s with strong management practices and social values, but which are constrained by capital and resources, certainly on a large scale. By providing risk-tolerant funding for individual loans, (Kiva lenders are social investors, not financial investors), Kiva serves an incubator of sorts, fulfilling a dual role of (a) accelerating MFI’s, like BRAC, progress up-Tier and, (b) helping others achieve self-sufficiency. In the graphic below, Kiva fostered BRAC Uganda’s move into an exclusive category of global MFIs which can attract vast appropriations from large institutions. With Kiva, BRAC Uganda is now reaching many tens of thousands of clients throughout Uganda and is delivering more services to the people who need them most. Kiva has done its job with BRAC Uganda! We should all be proud of that success. As of this writing, Kiva lenders have reached 1,078 borrowers in less than a year, with an aggregate funding amount of over $1.6 million. That’s an amazing impact!
So exactly what is Kiva’s value to lower-Tier MFI’s? In fact, it’s profound. The capital structure of lower-Tier MFI’s consists of a significant percentage of donor capital and high-cost commercial debt from lending or alternative investment firms. Donor capital is not sustainable and commercial structures are restrictive and their high costs are pushed onto the borrowers who can afford them the least. Further, resource limitations constrain their capacity to build infrastructure that’s needed to scale and sustain competitive position. Kiva solves many problems central to these organizations, strategically and operationally; notably:

1. Reduces overall cost of capital
2. Increases profitability and accelerates sustainability
3. Helps MFI’s build capacity (related services like insurance, savings programs, health care, education and business training)
4. Helps build social performance tracking metrics
5. Provides a funding vehicle for riskier projects and innovation
6. Frees up capital to invest in infrastructure
7. Builds global awareness and brand, connecting local MFI’s with lenders and investors globally

In the end, scale matters and the ultimate goals of microfinance, as a global industry, are to (a) reach as much of the world’s poor as possible, sustainably and, (b) deeply integrate into the mainstream financial sector, one day eliminating its dependence on donor capital and government support. With scale and inclusion, featuring BRAC Uganda as a case study, comes:

1. Lower transactions costs
2. Greater capacity
3. Broader reach
4. Lower cost to members
5. Highest levels of transparency
6. Unlimited (essentially) access to market-based capital
7. For better or worse, Kiva can (but not de facto) become an impediment beyond some inflection point on the Long Tail curve.

So what’s next for me in East Africa? I haven’t the first clue! But I do know that there’s plenty of poverty in Uganda; no shortage of good work to do. That is Kiva’s purpose and commitment (thank you Ben and JD!), and it is mine until January 2. Kiva has several MFI partners in Uganda and many more that want to be. All have real business problems, each needs real solutions. And I’m an entrepreneur; which is to say, a problem solver. A true adventure, afterall, yields only an unforeseen and complex outcome. Uncertainty is the only certainty. Stay tuned.

later man, jan

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008 - Poverty

Today is Blog Action Day 2008 and this is the day when thousands of bloggers will unite to discuss a single issue - poverty. The aim is to raise awareness, initiate action and to shake the web!

And of course, all of you, my friends, know that I will talk about Kiva. is the easiest way I know to make your small dollars (as little as $25) go a long way to helping someone and then come back to you to use again for the same purpose.

The Kiva website allows you to choose real people (entrepreneurs)in need somewhere in our world. Kiva allows you to lend money to via credit card or the PayPal system and PayPal actually donates all their fees so 100% of your money is actually sent. The money goes to a microfinance partner who in turn lends your money to the person or group you chose. These partners specialize in lending to the poorest of the poor and in many cases have other programs in place to help with health education or business skills etc that can help to maximize the entrepreneur’s success. Each partner has websites where you can see first-hand what their company policies and goals are.

Over time, the loan is paid back and all deposits, updates and information about the business is displayed on the Kiva website for you to keep an eye on your money.

Diane, a friend of mine on talks about the saying... "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime?" Well, Kiva borrowers already know how to fish. They just need a loan to buy a net.

This world is full of people whose lives would be so different if they just had a net! And all it would take for you to help them is to lend them the price of a couple of pizzas.

later man, jan

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Exciting Email today...

In September, I told you about a group of Canadian young people who started a website to connect struggling students with potential donors.

Today, I received an exciting email from Education Generation telling me that Sheila Atieno, a 17 year old girl from Ukwala, Kenya has received the funding needed to continue her schooling. Sheila is 17 years old, lives with her grandfather. She's an expert at cooking, fetching wood and water and giving love and care to her 5 younger siblings. She has taken on the role of mother and father from early on as both of her parents passed away, doing it all while getting excellent grades and being involved in her community... you can read all about her and the school she attends here.

The email reads... "Dear Jan & John,
Thanks to your support the scholarship for Shirley Atieno of $280.00 has been completely funded! We will forward the full amount to the partner organization to administer payment of school fees and expenses.

When journal entries, grades or other updates are received they will be posted to the profile and you will be notified by email.

When the academic year is complete, you will be presented with the opportunity to fund a further year's study for this student should you wish."

I am so excited... all we did was send $20 to add to the donations of 8 other people...

I can claim a Canadian tax deduction and this young lady can realize her dreams...
later man, jan

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Girl Effect

Yes, You can.
Yes, We can.

Spend some time at

Watch all 6 videos on YouTube...

For more information download Girls Count: A Global Investment & Action Agenda

(hat tip to my friend Good Dogg at
later man, jan

Friday, October 10, 2008

Bless God...

Posted October 10th, 2008 by Gaye Sharpe on the United Church Emerging Spirit Website.

"I sat in yet another all day meeting yesterday. We gathered to report on and wrestle with issues relating to Ministry and Personnel in BC Conference. As part of our gathering time, the Chair, Dal McCrindle, reminded us that prayers asking for blessing are not part of the Hebrew tradition. Jewish prayers "bless God" in recognition of all those aspects of our life that call us to give thanks.

As we enter this weekend of turkey, fresh cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, bless God for:

* Colleagues who will sit in an all day meeting committed to equipping our church with competent, faithful leaders
* Families that place heart in hand and "try" church
* Volunteers who prepare lessons, organize craft cupboards, decorate classrooms and welcome children
* Music directors that risk a "new" hymn because it fits the service
* The last ones out of the building every Sunday because they are making sure every dish is washed, every loonie counted, every concern heard, every hug doled out
* Those who respond "I'm going to church" when asked in the lunch room "What are you doing on the weekend?"
* A church that celebrates the 10th anniversary of its ordination of gays and lesbians AND advertises with a bobble-headed Jesus
* Those that read the "whole" church bulletin and don't need a phone call to be reminded of a meeting
* Those who give a concise, interesting church announcement lasting less than two minutes
* Those who laugh out loud, really loud in church
* The ones who say more than "Good service" at the door
* Parents who approach a font, place a child in our arms and commit themselves and the child to following Jesus
* Those who will not let us forget the call of God to respond to the needs of the wider world
* Youth who demand relevance in worship and programming
* Friends and family who remind us that there is more to life than church
* Children who ask questions through the communion liturgy, gaze spell bound at the Christ candle, search out the elder who needs the hug, drop picks into guitar holes, nurse during the service
* All those who will arrive at our churches this Sunday with gourds and wheat sheaves, pumpkins and muffins, red maple leaves and fresh garden produce to give thanks and bless God for family, the natural world and our church."

Happy Thanksgiving to all and find something of your own to add to the list above.
later man, jan

Thursday, October 09, 2008

You Have A Choice

Check out the video that has launched on YouTube. Its a powerful, special-effects laden new video for the original song 'You Have a Choice' featuring Canadian artists united to defeat Harper and fight climate change.

The artists include K-OS, Ed Robertson of Barenaked Ladies, Ben Kowalewicz of Billy Talent, Adam Gontier of Three Days Grace, Sarah Harmer, Hawksley Workman, Darren Dumas of The Salads and Jason Collett of Broken Social Scene.

This is being promoted at where you can check your postal code and find out how to vote the Conservatives out.

later man, jan

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

HOPE - great - now it posts - see last entry :)

"Voices of HOPE" - Esperanza International clients...

I just made a Kiva loan to a group of women in the Dominican Republic. They call themselves the Unidas Para El Progreso Group In a group loan, each member of the group receives an individual loan but is part of a group of individuals bound by a group guarantee.

The microfinance organization that Kiva partners with to enable this loan is called Esperanza International (a partner with HOPE International). They focus on "serving the most impoverished families in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Programs enable families to help themselves through initiatives that provide income generation, health care and education – leading to a future free from poverty and dependence."

There is a short video on YouTube with interviews with 2 people who have been helped by these types of loans. But I can't get the #$%&* thing to post. sigh

later man, jan

Bruce Springsteen for Obama

Canada's election is definitely in the huge shadow created by what is going on down south of us. Obama has the backing of Bruce Springsteen and this is taken from three days of Vote For Change concerts on behalf of Barack Obama...

"I’ve spent most of my creative life measuring the distance between that American promise and American reality. For many Americans, who are today losing their jobs, their homes, seeing their retirement funds disappear, who have no healthcare, or who have been abandoned in our inner cities. The distance between that promise and that reality has never been greater or more painful.

I believe Senator Obama has taken the measure of that distance in his own life and in his work. I believe he understands, in his heart, the cost of that distance, in blood and suffering, in the lives of everyday Americans. I believe as president, he would work to restore that promise to so many of our fellow citizens who have justifiably lost faith in its meaning. After the disastrous administration of the past 8 years, we need someone to lead us in an American reclamation project. In my job, I travel the world, and occasionally play big stadiums, just like Senator Obama. I’ve continued to find, wherever I go, America remains a repository of people’s hopes, possibilities, and desires, and that despite the terrible erosion to our standing around the world, accomplished by our recent administration, we remain, for many, a house of dreams. One thousand George Bushes and one thousand Dick Cheneys will never be able to tear that house down.

They will, however, be leaving office, dropping the national tragedies of Katrina, Iraq, and our financial crisis in our laps. Our sacred house of dreams has been abused, looted, and left in a terrible state of disrepair. It needs care; it needs saving, it needs defending against those who would sell it down the river for power or a quick buck. It needs strong arms, hearts, and minds. It needs someone with Senator Obama’s understanding, temperateness, deliberativeness, maturity, compassion, toughness, and faith, to help us rebuild our house once again. But most importantly, it needs us. You and me. To build that house with the generosity that is at the heart of the American spirit. A house that is truer and big enough to contain the hopes and dreams of all of our fellow citizens. That is where our future lies. We will rise or fall as a people by our ability to accomplish this task. Now I don’t know about you, but I want that dream back, I want my America back, I want my country back.

So now is the time to stand with Barack Obama and Joe Biden, roll up our sleeves, and come on up for the rising."

My KF friend Eli cut and pasted this from:

later man, jan

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Marcus Borg - a gentle man who makes it sound so simple...

There is this huge controversy in Christianity today. Many of us grew up in Christianity and have a history of reading the gospels in a very literal way. Many of us have tried to engage the gospels and have found the stories differ from each other. In trying to find meaning for my own life, I have realized that the gospels emerged from a genuine response of people who had an incredible experience of God and needed to put it in words.

A blogger I follow who calls himself rlp - as in real live preacher - has had the opportunity to have a conversation with Marcus Borg and he has posted an introduction and a recording of the conversation on CCBlogs (thinking critically, living faithfully). I found listening to this recording was a valuable use of a half hour of my time.

Quoting from rlp's introduction...
"Most of us ministers have made our peace with this. We understand that the gospels clearly reflect early Church theology. That’s okay because that theology was the present experience of the friends of Jesus. It has value too. Our approach is to preach and teach from the gospels, taking the text as given. Trying to distinguish what might be the actual words of Jesus and the actual events of his life from what might be slightly embellished Church tradition is something that would be interesting, but ultimately it a question that cannot be answered. Moreover, we are busy with the real lives of people in our world who are following the spiritual path of Christianity as a means of salvation and spiritual growth.

Marcus Borg and the Jesus Seminar scholars have, however, taken up that task and have sought to distinguish carefully between the pre-Easter Jesus, who was a man defined by what he actually said and did, and the post-Easter Jesus, who is the figure venerated by the Church."

If you have read this far, I encourage you to take the time to go to My Conversation with Marcus Borg - by Gord Atkinson and see what you think.

later man, jan

Come meet a Friend of mine...

Danali says she "is a 17 year old girl who loves to help the world."

She has created a lens at and it's all about Kiva. I myself don't really understand how surfing from site to site on the web can generate so much money but it does. And Danali is making money for Kiva.

I gave her a 5 ***** rating :) Go check it out.

later man, jan