Have you wondered what that green badge on my sidebar is all about?
A year ago a professional genealogist in Queensland, Judy Webster, founded the Genealogists for Families team (GFF) within the Kiva scheme in honour of her father. The motto of the team is “we care about families, (past present and future)”.
Kiva has been in existence for a long time and any individual can join any team of their choice. Judy’s GFF team quickly took off internationally among the genealogical community. As at 12 September 2012, we have 214 members from around the world who have made 1010 loans totalling $26,700. Just imagine the difference that money is making at a grass roots level in countries less privileged than ours.
My responses to some FAQs
Where can I read more about the GFF team?
The Genealogists for Families also have a blog run by Judy Webster. You can find it here.
I spent some time in a developing country and I know how hard it can be for people to get ahead. I believe that this is a great way of giving people the opportunity to become more self-sufficient economically, gain a credit rating, and help their families.
I had also known of Judy Webster for a long time and trusted her judgement, making it easier to feel I could join up.
But isn’t this just charity?
These are loans, not donations, and people choose what they want the money for: just like you or I might go to the bank for a loan. As the lender you choose which loan you support depending on the purpose for which they’re borrowing and/or where the borrower lives and their family circumstances.
As one of our members has said: your small loan makes a big difference!
Isn’t there a risk I’ll lose my money?
The person repays the loan according to a repayment strict schedule which the lender can see before they make the loan.
The borrower obtains the money through an agency in their country. As a lender you can see the risk factor associated with that agency by looking on the right hand bar of the page. It will tell you their credit rating by looking at the number of stars and also their default rating.
I haven’t lost a cent on my loans though a couple have been a little late in paying, but then caught up.
I figure that we can absorb the occasional loss if we have to. After all we do spend $25 on much less long-term benefits to ourselves: books/wine etc. Their lives are subject to war, famine, poverty and so many things beyond their own control, if I can help them I’m happy.
Do I have to make a set number of loans?
No, you can make one loan and wait for it to be repaid. You can then relend if you wish, or withdraw your money. It’s entirely up to you.
What’s your long-term plan?
I can only talk for our family, but my husband and I have been aiming for a loan a fortnight over the past year. From a practical point of view this is a good plan while the Aussie dollar is strong against the US dollar (the currency of the loans).
If we build up a suite of loans we can keep recycling to new lenders as repayments are made, irrespective of currency fluctuations.
It also means that when we’re both retired we can keep up our involvement in Kiva even though our own disposable income will be less: the repayments will take care of new loans for years (or decades) to come.
Why do team members lend?
Apart from the general belief that they’re doing some good in the world, there’s been a growing trend for team members to remember a family member’s anniversary or some special family event. Julie from Anglers Rest was the first to articulate this concept and many others have taken the concept on board.
Can’t think of what to get someone for a birthday etc? How about a Kiva loan? It certainly is the gift that keeps on giving.
When my Cambodian-born hairdresser opened her own salon recently, and knowing her own lending tradition, I chose to make a GFF loan to a Cambodian woman building her own home…so much longer lasting than a bunch of flowers or chocolates. Khim was thrilled to bits as we often talk about Kiva!
How do you choose who to lend to?
Often we choose people with an occupational affiliation from our family history. For example I have chosen women who are dressmakers, a man who is a carpenter, etc.
I’ve also tried to focus on the general Asian area because it’s my region. Our daughter and another friend live in Africa so our loans have often focused on this area. Listening to my hairdresser from Cambodia talking about economic conditions in that country has made it high on my lending list.
Do I have to be a genealogist to join?
No you don’t. You may be a fellow blogger who’s happened on this page and want to join Kiva.
By all means you are welcome to join our Genealogists for Families group but you could also join any other group on Kiva as well. The important thing is to get involved.
What’s the process?
You can follow the steps needed by reading my blog post on the topic.
Ready to join?
From time to time donors make it possible to maximise lending opportunities.
At the moment if you use this link when you make your first loan, you will also gain a free loan as well as providing one for me. So for $25 we will be able to make three loans, not one, which will go on giving into the future. These bonus loans apply for a short period, so don’t forget to go back in to make a loan with the bonus.
Remember: our small loans can make a big difference to someone’s life.