Category Archives: Finances


Tall Skinny Kiwi (Andrew Jones) draws attention to the organization Kiva today.

If you are not yet familiar with Kiva, please check out their website (the “about” tab has lots of information). While I know there are some people who question the micro-finance system as a whole (see the first comment on Andrew’s post), I think some people can easily dismiss a very good opportunity in the name of trying to prevent supporting those few who tarnish a system.

I think Kiva is great, in fact they’ve recently won the ThinkSocial Award. I’m personally very happy to support Kiva.

Here’s how it works: Kiva administers micro-loans (in increments of $25) from people around the world like you and me. They work with local groups (verified for their reputation) to identify individuals who want a loan to help their business. Small descriptions of the currently identified loan opportunities are posted on the Kiva website. You pick who you want to loan your money to. Then the benefit of technology comes into play. You make your loan to Kiva and then you get updates about how the loan is being repaid. I know exactly who has my money, what they are trying to do, how long it takes them to repay (it is common for me to get an email that says something like “$2.09 of your loan to xxx has been repaid.” I get to be a “cheerleader” of sorts when I post a note for the entrepreneur (which gets passed on to the loan recipient). And here’s the best part: once the loan is repaid, I GET TO LOAN IT AGAIN!! Right now I have loans out to people in South Sudan, Kenya, and Ghana. Loans to folks in Peru, Ghana, Kenya, Togo, and South Sudan have already been repaid and I reloaned the money.

Here’s a video that shows the process and what Kiva is about.

A Fistful Of Dollars: The Story of a Loan from Kieran Ball on Vimeo.

This video is from Frontline:

2 bits ain’t worth what it used to be

You might be living under a rock if you are unaware of all the financial woes of the last year. It is hard to find someone who is not directly affected (or has a friend/family member affected) by unemployment, housing issues, or a loss in the stock market. But even if you are aware, do you really understand what’s going on and how we got into (some of) this mess? The folks at NPR‘s This American Life have boiled down some of the issues and done a superb job of making very complicated systems understandable.

I recommend two episodes in particular. The first is an explanation of the housing/mortgage crisis (The Giant Pool of Money, May 2008) and the second is an explanation of the collapse of the banking system (Bad Bank, Feb 2009). Each episode is 60 minutes (well worth the time) but you can also download a transcript to read at your leisure.

If you like their ability to explain financial things, you should check out their blog, Planet Money, or their podcast.