Knights

By Nick • • 15 Jan 2012

Be a little bit hero

What

The Knights of Cydonia is a Kiva.org group I set up – it allows a group of us to track our aggregated loans and become a juggernaut of change driving truth, social justice, equality, and rightness. From time to time we can also catch up for celebratory drinks, but given we live all over this might need to be in local cells.

I like Kiva for a number of reasons.

  • It’s efficient for a charity and has quite good oversight.
  • The loans are managed locally, usually by people within the community.
  • It is a LOAN. You’re not giving the money away. You are lending it to someone who has use for it, and you will almost certainly (repayment rates by many of the local loan managers are extremely good – frankly I’ve got as much faith in them as I do in my bank, if not more) get it BACK. Average across Kiva is 1% default. This means if you lend $1,000 you will be repaid, on average, $990… so you’re ‘donating’ $10 for $1,000 worth of good – not bad!
  • The loans are backfilled, meaning that the person managing the loan locally has ALREADY GIVEN the person money using repayments from previous loans, and your ‘funding’ them is allowing them to find someone new to lend to. This initially seems like a bit of a croc, but what it really means is that the process is fast and efficient for the borrower (then can get on with making the loan pay for itself, not sit around in limbo) and that the local loan manager has a REALLY strong incentive to pick good borrowers… otherwise he gets stuck with them owing him money but can’t backfill the loan. Your funding the loan is the ultimate stamp of approval for them, and allows them to carry on the good work with someone new.
  • It gives you an exact profile of the person you’re giving money to, and explains why. This is not some abstract poster child person picked to be suitably pathetic but endearing by World Vision, but an actual dude/dude-ette who has their actual photo and is actually going to go and catch fish or mend clothes or start african-twitter or whatever. This ‘real’ face of the loan means that when you make the loan you cannot help but gain an insight into the community you’re loaning to. This builds global awareness which I think is really valuable.

What Not

A vanity project. A guilt project. A way to convince people to part with their money when they’d rather not. It doesn’t matter if you don’t loan often, or don’t loan big figures, or don’t loan at ALL. You don’t have to join. You don’t have to loan anything. So loaning a single dollar of money that you’ve earned to someone you don’t know because you think it’ll make the world a better place already makes you a legend. The rest is just numbers.

If you don’t like the name, the logo, or the description then say so. If you don’t like the concept and want to just loan-alone then more power to you :-)

How

Join up at Kiva.org. Join the Knights of Cydonia (or not, if you wanna fly solo). Find someone to make a loan to. Loan (and pick Knights-of-Cydonia as the team). Spend the rest of the day/week feeling great because you just did something awesome.

2 Responses

  1. Nick

    protip: If you want the wealthy industrialist rush then find loans that are mostly funded and finish them off. It just tastes better – you can be all “don’t worry fellas, I’ve got this” despite the fact that your real contribution is the same percentage it would have been if you’d got in at the start.

  2. Nick

    Another good thing about a team is that it lets you screen loans for each other. After looking around the site a bit more there are a hell of a lot of loans that are, basically, “Thaweta needs money so they can buy goods for their retail store to sell”. Sure, those are necessary too, but the ones that psyche me up are the “Escabo needs money so he can buy some spanners to be a mechanic”. Guess I’m just not a retailer at heart.

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