For those not in the know, Kiva is a Micro Loans Programme. It specialises in loans to small family-owned or community businesses mainly in the developing world, but also in the USA and some of Eastern Europe.
Ecomonkey started lending on Kiva a couple of years ago as Ecomonkey. We always lent out $25 amounts to reduce the risk of losing the principal, as you don’t get any interest back on your (for we are helping build up human capital too!) and there is also some risk associated with exchange rate fluctuations (wow!). We started this from our own pockets at first, just a few hundred dollars, and then proceeded to use the unclaimed commissions received from participating retailers on the Ecomonkey shopping programme.
Whilst this made us feel good, the EM programme wasn’t working. Once we had established that the extrinsic rewards programme wasn’t really working (the extrinsic incentives were insufficient a motivator to use our programme) we decided that all user commissions would be given to Kiva. We possibly didn’t do this early enough or publicise this off-site as much as we could have done, but the fund grew from a few hundred dollars to a $1000 before stalling. It was topped up by the fairly trivial revenues arising from Google Adsense (it didn’t pay for the server Ed.).
Because our loan fund is a revolving one (the loans are not donations) it has now supported over 150 individuals, and therefore funded close to $4000 of loans. Our fund gets dipped into to encourage more people to join (we send the $25 to invest) and from time to time we top it up.
With the gradual decline of user patronage on Ecomonkey we have created a new Kiva Team via Ourlocality.org, a very local community publishing platform created by the people behind Ecomonkey.
We’d like to grow the membership of that team, when we have a moment to spare.