The Kenyan Crisis Cost Me $12.60: My First Defaulted Kiva Loan

Since joining Kiva, a website allowing users to provide micro-loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries, my family and I have made over 20 loans ranging from $25 to $75. Though we considered it a donation, the idea of it being a loan, and the fact that I can pull out my money after the loan has been repaid has definitely shaped my perspective on it to being considered more of an “investment” in doing good.

You can imagine my disappointment then when I found out that one of the loans had defaulted before repayment. It wasn’t terrible, just $12.60 that I didn’t get back in the loan repayment, but I still wanted to find out what happened.

The entrepreneur we lent to was a 60 year old woman named Joyce who used the $125 loan she was given to purchase additional animal feed in an effort to boost her cows milk supply and bolster her monthly income. She received the loan and managed to pay it back monthly through out the year, but according to the Kiva records, stopped just $20 short of repayment. It turns out the problem with the repayment came not from Joyce, but from WEEC, the field partner organization in charge of the loan. There is no further information on Joyce, I pray her cows are healthy and well fed, but here is what I found out about WEEC:

“WEEC is currently experiencing significant operational difficulties that have caused all active WEEC loans to default. It is important to note that in many cases the entrepreneur repaid the loan to WEEC in full and did benefit from your loan. However, WEEC has experienced operational problems caused by a number of factors, including the unexpected death of WEEC’s founder and Executive Director, poor management of funds, and economic and political unrest in Kenya. Together, these factors produced a situation where Kiva is unable to get a 100% clear account of your specific loan and recover your full loan amount from WEEC.” (read more here)

You, like I, might have heard some of the news regarding Kenya over the past few months. I even have a friend who works with Opportunity International in Kenya, so the news was even more personal then most international news. However, it still felt miles away, distanced, and surreal, just like nearly everything else I read about.

Now this might seem silly, but the defaulted loan and the $12.60 I lost in my Kiva investments, it made the world seem a little smaller. The situation in Kenya a little more real. I pray Joyce is okay, and that other entrepreneurs like her where not negatively affected by the unrest or the loan defaults. As for me, I’m going to keep investing, whether for false motives or true, I hope my vested interest will bring me closer to other people around the globe.

P.S. The $25 we loaned through comment love was fully repaid. I’ve reloaned it again, thanks for your support.

Happy Birthday Adyra (And Mommy!)

Momma and Adyra

One year ago today my beautiful wife, after a trying labor, gave birth to our equally beautiful baby girl. Today we celebrate their health and our happiness for a joyous first year and look forward to many, many more to come.

Adyra, I am so proud of the strong girl you are growing to be. You bring such a joy to my life and have taught me so much in our short time together. I enjoy every moment we have together and am so eager to see you grow and become the woman God intends for you to be.

Mindy, I am so happy to have the opportunity to parent next to you. When I could only stand by and encourage, you carried our daughter to full term (and yes, nine days over due), gave birth to a healthy little girl (at 9 lbs she wasn’t so little), and have nursed her to a beautiful and healthy one year old. I can’t wait for the years ahead as we stand together and raise her to be a strong and splendid woman.

No Sweat Shoes Might Not Be As Sweat Free As They Claim

No Sweat crossed out

This is terribly disappointing and shocking information, but it points to the need for us to be critical shoppers and not passive consumers when it comes to all things, even those that claim to be “Fair” or “Green.”

I’ve written about No Sweat before and found them to be an impressive company overall. They made a switch a few years back to start offering products made overseas, but they put in some stringent measures to ensure fair labor practices including outside independent auditors. And they even put the reports on their site. “Brilliant!” I had thought, a new standard in the efforts to be conscious consumers. However, I neglected to even take a look at one of the reports.

Here, courtesy of adbusters browsing, is some of what those reports contain:

Question 2: Have you ever had a bad experience at work, like forced labor or underpayment of wages?

[The numbers indicate number of employees responding, and not percentages]
Yes: 39
No: 11

Question 6: If you add up your wages, wage supplements (food, Lebaran bonus), and your level of satisfaction at work, do you think you are paid fairly?
Yes: 8
No: 42

Question 10: What is the most accurate description of your experience at work?
Positive and friendly: 6
Fair – no complaints: 7
Unpleasant (pressured to work faster or disrespectful treatment from supervisors): 37

Q: So, are these Sweatshop free shoes, or another example of Greenwashing?

When Marketing Is Unethical: Casinos

photo credit: knows if this will become a regular series, but I’ve definitely ran across enough stories to keep it going if I wanted to. This recent one is about a Casino being fined $800,000 for sending marketing material to recovering gambling addicts who had voluntarily signed-up to be banned from all casinos. In other words, the casino was enticing addicts to gamble even after they asked to be excluded.

From the Chicago Tribune (ht. AAA)

The Illinois Gaming Board on Monday fined Hollywood Casino in Aurora $800,000 and suspended three managers for sending promotional materials to problem gamblers who asked to be banned from casinos in the state.

It’s the largest fine the board has ever levied for such an infraction….

The voluntary program allows problem gamblers to cut off their access to state casinos. The exclusion includes promotional materials intended to entice customers to visit.

Ethical? What do you think?

Upon Returning From The Wilderness

We are back out of the wilderness and fun that was PAPA fest. It was a good time, I might blog about it a little later, good and disappointing, but overall it was a nice little trip. The kiddo did great with tent camping and handled the hot summer days pretty well.

We aren’t home yet, we stopped to visit our good friends in Iowa, praying they have a baby before we leave, but not sure if that’s gonna happen (no pressure). It’s just been great to sit and talk and relax and spend time with them.

I sat down and checked my email yesterday for the first time since last Wednesday and something profound occurred… none of it was all that important. I mean there were some voicemail (I get it through email) and a feel emails I replied to, but overall, I probably could have gone another week without checking it.

Another thing occurred to me as I checked my blog as well, the one thing driving my consistency in having a daily blog post is that I know I have an audience. And though that’s definitely a good reason, it shouldn’t be the only reason. There are a lot of local projects and groups I’m trying to get involved in and that means turning more of my attention in that direction. That might result in less attention here. We’ll just have to see. Sorry, for the rather random personal update. But thanks for continuing to read.

Book Review: The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture, by Shane Hipps

My friend, Bryan, recommended this book, The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture, by Shane Hipps and I picked it up from the library about a week ago. It was a phenomenal and very insightful read, which I’d highly recommend to anyone in church leadership or church anything.

The book basically talks about taking a step back from media (and it uses this term broadly) and considering the impact the media itself has on us, rather then just considering the message we communicate through it. For example, we tend to think of Television as evil when it promotes drugs and violence, but good when it promotes christian evangelism; but as for the television itself we tend to consider it a neutral entity. Hipps points out that no piece of media is neutral it all has an impact on us as individuals and as a culture. The advent of the printing press brought about the age of individualism, you need only look at the protestant reformation (sola scriptura) to get an historical understanding of that.

Hipps references a lot of Marshall McLuhan as the sort of resident expert on the subject, he’s the guy who said:

The Medium is the message.

McLuhan also said:

“The content or message of any particular medium has about as much importance as the stenciling on the casing of an atomic bomb.”

The point he was making is the the media we use has huge implications that we tend to ignore. The message is important, but if we aren’t aware of the impact of the medium it will have dangerous implications.

I’m going to begin writing and reflecting on quotes from books I’ve been reading in future blog posts, so stay tuned for a few from this book. And remember to pick up a copy from your local library some time.

You can read this article by Shane Hipps to get a taste for the book, or check out his website.

Art Critiquing Culture

Hmmm… What do you think?
(HT [that means ‘Hat Tip’ by the way]. Nick, Pete and JR)

It reminded me of the image I pieced together for my final paper for my art survey class.
Which is obviously not even close to the artistic ability of Nadia Plesner who made the above art piece.
art gallery

If you found my blog post last month on art interesting, you might be interested in reading my final paper, nothing special but I posted it online.

Six Sentences: Sink

A Story in six sentences. See if you can figure out the inspiration for this story.


“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I- just give me a chance…I’ll make it up to him, I promise!” He trembled, the waves crashing against the dam below where he stood 200 feet above the choppy waters, the full moon illuminating his plight, two mafia henchmen standing before him.

“You had your chance, it wasn’t an idle threat, you should know that: you mess with the boss, try and pull one over on him, sooner or later, your gonna sink…”

“But I didn’t know he was the boss, honestly, I mean, I’m sure plenty of people make that mistake, he’s so sm-”

“Look, I’m not the Judge, heck, I’m not even the executioner (you did this to yourself), there’s certain certainties in life, cause and effect, it doesn’t matter how small the Boss is, just because he looks sweet and innocent, in fact, maybe that’s the point, you think it’s something to take advantage of, but, well, look where you ended up…” The enormous anchor tied to the man began to slip from it’s place on the ledge beside him, the henchman, done with his impromptu speech, gave the anchor a solid push with his shoe, and turned back toward his car, as the weight dragged the man into the waters below.

Photo Credit: David Zellaby