Blog Action Day 2008

This looks worth supporting. The theme of this year’s Blog Action Day is “Poverty”.

One of the campaigns this is supporting is the Kiva programme. I hadn’t heard of Kiva until a couple of weeks ago when Kate told me about it after hearing an interview on the radio (Radio NZ National – excellent public radio station I used to work at). However, I have heard of something like it. I did an interview in the early 1990s with a person who was working with the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh in association with women’s groups there. They would organise “microloans” from the bank for women to allow them to purchase materials or supplies for their own businesses. It might be a machine of some sort – say, a sewing machine for making garments – or seeds to plant a crop. The loans were normally very small, e.g. US$5 (worth a lot more 25 years ago), and would be repaid without interest at the end.

Kiva is very similar to this. While US$20 might buy a couple of us a nice meal in a cafe, in many countries it will be a significant investment in a small business. Crucially, it allows people to borrow without the usurious interests rates normally charged on small loans.

Blog Action Day 2008 Poverty from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.

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