Last week I set my students the homework of choosing someone for me to loan money to on the charity website Kiva.org. My Monday lunchtime class is two banker women. When I got to the next lesson, I was pleased and relieved to see the students had prepared little presentations.
My students do what I tell them! I am all powerful!
The first option was Turbat from Mongolia. He wanted money to buy a wider range of stock. My student had chosen Mongolia because she'd been there on holiday. "It's a very wide country and you have to drive a lot, and there are no restaurants on the way. So he could do a deal with travel agencies. They'd stop their buses outside his shop and they'd buy things there, and he'd pay a commission. And he wants to buy a van. He could do a delivery service and be a courier while his wife runs the shop."
She was full of ideas of how the guy could improve his business, but they were her ideas. I wished Turbat had said all that. Instead, he just stood in front of some shelves of Coke. Was his plan just to buy Pepsi as well? Oh, Turbat, you have to give us more info!
So I chose to invest in Dara Sun. That's this guy:
He's Cambodian and works in construction. He wanted 500 dollars to buy construction equipment for his business. The student who chose him impressed me because she'd chosen someone with some financial data for me to chew on. "His income is six and a half dollars a day, and his wife makes two and a half dollars a day. He spends sixty dollars a month on food, eight on electricity and twenty on other expenses." Detailed!
The student scored more brownie points when I asked how she chose Dara. "First I searched for the Field Agent with the best Risk rating. This one has a five-star rating and a really low delinquency rate." Wow! She was really looking after my money. Why do bankers have such a bad reputation?
So, as promised, I went home to send my money through the internet and into Dara's pocket. The process was very simple. I already had a PayPal account, so in a couple of clicks it was done. (You can also use credit cards and stuff.) There was an option to donate a bit towards Kiva.org as well, to help them run the website and that. Fair enough. I stumped up a dollar for them. Total cost - 17 British pounds.
The next page on the website asked me what I wanted to do when the guy repaid the loan. You can either get it credited to your Kiva account and relend it, or donate it (with good tax breaks in the US). You can also withdraw your money. I'm going to relend mine, keep it circulating around the world doing good.
Soon after, I had a new mail in my inbox. In short, it thanked me for being one of the bestest, most generousest people in the world, and linked me to a new page on the website for amazing people like me who lend money. The page is called My Portfolio and has some graphs and stuff on it.
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