Kiva Project: Doing something different with our money

It’s the beginning of the month, which means I have a blog paycheque burning a hole in my online pocket. I thought, in light of this morning’s story, that it might be worthwhile to do something a little different this month:

Pe’ Sla is an area in the Black Hills of South Dakota (just west of Rapid City) that is considered by the Lakota people to be the Center and heart of everything that is. It is part of our creation story. It is a sacred place. We perform certain ceremonies at Pe’ Sla which sustain the Lakota way of life and keep the universe in harmony. This area is partly owned by the Reynolds family. They plan to auction off almost 2,000 acres on August 25, 2012 to the highest bidder. It is likely that the state of South Dakota will put a road directly through Pe’ Sla and open up this sacred place for development.


We are hoping to buy as much of the sacred sites as possible. Currently for sale is 1,942.66 acres which is in 5 tracts (300 – 440 acres each).  It is diffcult to say how much this land would be sold for as developers may increase the true western “value”.

As much as the idea of ‘sacred land’ irks me, I think the goal of reclaiming ancestrally-held lands is a good one. The more economic power these communities have, the harder it is to ignore their needs and ‘otherize’ them. This campaign is closing in 5 days, so I thought it might be cool to kick this month’s pay to this cause. I will wait to see if there are any major complaints or concerns. Unlike Kiva, this is a donation and not a loan, meaning that when this money is gone, it’s gone for good.

We also got a bunch of repayments in our Kiva account, so go check out any campaigns there that you might like and I’ll pick a couple of those as well.

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  1. says

    YES YES please donate to them!! I heard about this last week and it’s incredible that the Lakota may be losing part of the Black Hills. Doesn’t matter who has the land or why; nobody should be able to buy their sacred lands so that they can’t use them.

  2. Anonymous Atheist says

    For the repaid Kiva money:
    Marilu in Colombia – listed Sep 3, currently 0% raised of $1100

    Marilu, 45, is a single mother and the head-of-household for her 4 children. The children’s father abandoned them without any financial support some time ago, and the family’s financial situation has become more difficult. Previously, Marilu had worked in a print shop for 14 years. Since that job did not generate enough money to meet household expenses, she decided to open her own business with a lot of effort in order to earn the necessary income. Though she started her fast food business with little capital, the effort she puts in each day has slowly positioned the business and made it prosper in the market. In the year since she began her business, the family’s situation and her children’s quality of life have improved, though they still have financial problems.

    Marilu is seeking a loan to buy tools and some advertising for her business. She dreams of growing her business, which will allow her to give her children a better life and a good education. She also dreams of having her own store where she can give her customers better service, grow her business, and make financial progress.
    Judith in Nicaragua – listed Sep 1, currently 20% raised of $850

    Judith is 57 years old, single, and these days lives alone in her home. She works as a teaching facilitator for Aldeas SOS [an orphan and abandoned children’s charity].

    She is requesting the loan to construct a drain and install a toilet in the back patio of her house. This will help to improve her quality of life since she is now a woman who lives alone, and is thinking of improving her home to have better facilities for when she is older.

  3. lirael_abhorsen says

    Just making sure, everybody here knows that those heartwarming Kiva profiles are rarely the actual people that you’re directly lending to, right? You’re lending money at no interest to a microfinance lender to backfill pre-disbursed loan funds on a particular project. Your actual money is probably going to other borrowers, and the borrower in the heartwarming profile nearly always has their loan already. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great to give money to these projects. And I’m glad that over the last few years Kiva has gotten more transparent about this. It’s just that, IMO, they are not as clear about it as they should be. A lot of people don’t realize what “Your funds will be used to backfill this loan” means, and you have to do some looking around their site to find a reasonably transparent explanation of what is happening.

    Another thing they are not as clear about as they should be: You’re lending money to the microfinance lender for no interest, but they’re charging the borrowers interest. The average interest rate that borrowers were paying as of a couple of years ago was about 35% (which, because Kiva screens their partners, is fairly low by microfinance standards – again, I’m not saying that Kiva isn’t doing good, only that the good being done is not necessarily what people think). For instance, the project that Marilu borrowed from (she has already received her loan) is Interactuar. According to Microfinance Transparency, Interactuar’s average rate is around 20%, so that (which, again, is pretty low by microfinance standards) is probably about what Marilu is paying in interest.

    Kiva does a lot of good but I really dislike what I consider to be their deceptive (even if they have gotten less deceptive in the last few years) use of heartwarming individual profiles.

  4. says

    Yeah we had a couple of go-’rounds about this issue when we first started this project. A lot of the problem, as I understand it, is that there are no other options, and microfinance institutions will often lend when nobody else will.

    I do appreciate your concern and clarification though.

  5. SherryH says

    I’m certainly in favor of helping the Lakota reclaim their ancestral lands. In fact, I think it’s brilliant! Good on you for seeking out and finding this opportunity.

  6. SherryH says

    True, the lending partners (in-country lenders) frequently lend the money, post the profile, and then backfill the loan funds. Part of the reason for this, I’ve been told, is that to post the loan, wait for Kiva lenders to fill it, and then lend the money would take longer than these very poor borrowers have to wait.

    With Kiva lenders backfilling the loan, the lending partner then has more money to lend to other needy borrowers.

    It’s also true that lending partners sometimes charge interest rates that seem exorbitant. Going with what I’ve heard in the Kiva Forums, one of the reasons for that is that there are certain fixed (or nearly fixed) costs to the lending partner to make the loan – they have to pay someone to process the loan, to follow up with the borrower, to collect payments and so on.

    Also, lending partners are usually businesses, not philanthropists, and need to clear enough of a profit to keep going, reinvest, and grow. If they go under, they’re not going to be around to make any more loans.

    Do I think Kiva is perfect? No. But I think it’s doing a great job for what it is, and they seem to be working strongly to improve.

    *steps down, picks up soap box, looks at it in confusion*

    Huh. Where’d that come from?

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