Archive for April 3rd, 2010

Alternative lending

Alternative lending

| 03/04/2010 | 8 Comments

Recently, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stated that governments should get tough with banks. The irony of this was not lost on me. The situation in the world is that money is often loaned to countries by the IMF and organizations such as USAID. However, these loans come with many strings attached which cancel out any benefits for ordinary people.

They are often for huge infrasctructure projects, and those projects are undertaken by multi-national corporations which reap the majority of the benefits. The rest is often lost to government corruption, leaving most people exactly where they started.

There is an alternative to this backward practice of giving with one hand and taking away with the other. An organization was begun in San Francisco called KIVA and I would like to tell you something about it.

Many people have heard of micro-financing and micro-banking. Micro-banking involves creating a community bank. Micro-financing involves a process that is similar: People make personal loans to individuals. By going to this website, you can choose someone anywhere in the world you wish to make a personal loan to. The payback record on the loans is 89%. (Far better than Wall Street, is it not, and the "loans" they received from you and me?) There is, of course, a small administration fee involving the people working for KIVA throughout the world. How does $3.25 US sound?

The loans are small, accumulated from several individuals. Often people are not able to access standard banks. They haven’t any collateral other than the work they are willing to put in to better their lives. Therefore, banks aren’t interested. But if they could seize a life they would.

For myself, I have made a loan to woman in Nicaragua, who needs to repair her house. And another to someone in El Salvador who has a small restaurant. The loans are being re-paid.

What you receive is a statement on repayment and the progress of the person you are helping. There is no interest on these loans, which are sometimes as small as US$25 or $50 and you are free to contact the person. There is also the option on being repaid of rolling it over to someone somewhere else.

I believe firmly this is how we make the change we want to see in the world.

Upon visiting the website you can read their stories and see who the person is you would like to help. These are people just like you and me, albeit with fewer advantages. Not a Rolex or a mega-yacht in sight. Just … people trying to better their lives with a little help.

If you are actually, like I was, really tired, infinitely tired, of hearing the same BS from the same people, please take the time to check it out. You can even form a group if you’d like of friends or co-workers. Form your own conglomerate! Within your online portfolio of loans, you will be kept updated on repayments and progress. As I said, the repayments are running at 89%. These aren’t people like AIG looking for a hand-out. All they want is some help — and they’re willing to pay it back.

Wendy recently wrote a viewpoint about Individualism over collectivism. I strongly concour that, by acting individually, collectively we can change the situation many people in the world are living in.

The IMF and banks impoverish people. Loans are made which can never be repaid by their governments, and in the process people lose their resources, property, employment and self-determination. They become serfs without any degree of hope for improving their lives. With micro-financing we are able to cut-out the middlemen. And when we become the bank … we are then the bankers. But with a difference. With compassion. This is what Jesus would have done, no? By making personal loans we have helped in our way to cut-out the greed and avarice. And sleep knowing we’ve actually helped an individual escape poverty. We really have.

Don’t take my word for it. Investigate micro-financing. It is worldwide and growing. By helping someone else win, we win too. Go to the KIVA website and read their policy and the success stories — small loans that have changed peoples’ lives. You will then begin to realize something: we no longer have to depend on banks or the IMF and the costs they extract at the expense of so many decent people.

We’ve re-invented banking.

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UK sets up Chagos Islands marine reserve

UK sets up Chagos Islands marine reserve

| 03/04/2010 | 59 Comments

(BBC): The UK government has created the world’s largest marine reserve around the Chagos Islands. The reserve would cover a 545,000-sq-km area around the Indian Ocean archipelago, regarded as one of the world’s richest marine ecosystems. This will include an area where commercial fishing will be banned. But islanders, who were evicted to make way for the US air base on the island of Diego Garcia, say a reserve would effectively bar them from returning. UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband said establishing the reserve would "double the global coverage of the world’s oceans under protection".

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