I rolled up to my Tuesday class in mostly optimistic mood. When I'd given them the homework of pitching someone for me to loan money to, they'd looked moderately interested. But they were IT geeks. Maybe they'd have spent the week playing World of Warcraft in darkened rooms instead of helping me do some good? Another worry was that one of the students had emailed me saying it was hard to choose and depressing because there were so many people who needed help.
I needn't have stressed. It was one of the worst lessons I ever did, and one of the best.
The worst because I don't think the four students who came learned a single thing about the English language.
The best because it restored almost all of my faith in humanity.
The first student, C-Man, told me how he'd made his choice. "I started by filtering for educational loans. I wanted to invest in education because that's long-term value, not just some guy who wants to buy a van or something. There were only nine to choose from. The best was this group in Sierra Leone. The Field Risk rating is 3 out of 5 - I think that's good. The delinquency rate is 0.27%, which is impressive. The loan will help a guy send his kids to primary school. The teachers are going to take a pay cut to repay the loan."
|Minkailu S's Group|
The second student, P-Dog, started his presentation by saying he didn't have a connection to any of the countries represented on Kiva. I thought he was going to say, 'so I didn't find anyone.' I began to get disappointed... until he blew my mind with his awesomeness! "I really got into it. It was the most interesting homework I've ever done. I tried to find a country I had a connection with... and I found it in Azerbaijan." Huh? What? "As you may know, Azerbaijan won the Eurovision Song Contest with this song." He then tapped his iPhone and it played a song. He had prepared!
It was this song (Running Scared):
|Anthony Steve Mori Mendoza|
"Yeah but my guy has 4 kids," said P-Dog, "So that's loads of people who benefit, indirectly."
"Look, Andrew," said M-and-M, "I believe in my guy. If you don't invest in him, I will."
"Okay guys," I said, "I'll let you know my decision later."
I mailed them:
Thanks for a great lesson today. I was delighted you put so much effort into the homework.
We had three great presentations. The winner was P-Dog, because of his unlikely use of the words 'Eurovision Song Contest', 'hot Azerbaijani girls', and 'I liked his face.'
But in the end I decided to invest in all of them. Attached you'll see my 'portfolio' of loans.