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.