Microloan programs: In El Llanito and Los Alvarez Nicaragua and worldwide via Kiva

Yesterday, while visiting composting latrines under construction in Los Alvarez, Luz Dania, from our NGO partner Alcance Nicaragua, told me about a local community microloan program.

It started as pilot program in El Llanito using the eco-stoves project repayments to their own community based organization. Then they were able to get $5000 from Outreach International to expand the program. Loans are up to a maximum of $200 US, but many are much smaller. Loans are intended to address various problems and opportunities.

Applicants submit requests for review by a committee. They’ve made 39 loans and another 16 are being made for agricultural loans (as it’s now time for planting and seeding). Recipients pay 1% per month, but payments can be scheduled for a later time, for example when crops are harvested. The committee members really know the people in their communities so they can choose reliable people to loan to.

These photos show case where a family used their loan to add a new roof over existing rooms and an area at the back of their house and install new doors.

My wife, Kathy, and I have a portfolio of organizations we support. But based on my conversation with Luz, I want to focus on Kiva and microlending today.

Bill Clinton’s 2007 book, Giving, inspired me to consider how each of us can change the world. He takes the reader through the extraordinary and innovative efforts being made by companies, organizations, and individuals, to solve problems and save lives both “down the street and around the world.”

He urges each of us to seek out what, “regardless of income, available time, age, and skills,” we can do to help, to give people a chance to live out their dreams.

He writes of how people with modest amounts who are willing to contribute sometimes are often unsure their $25 or $50 will make a difference. Kiva, an NGO, has resolved that question in an innovative way by offering people a way to become microcredit lenders of as little as $25.

Clinton’s book and shout out for Kiva encouraged me to start loaning through Kiva on a monthly basis. I’ve been doing it since 2010 and it adds up. Most of the loans are attributed to team Belize Open Source Sustainable Development.

Here is an image of loans I made today, after a reminder from Kiva that I had a credit. Most of them are from repayments. I focus on women in Ag in Central America, but occasionally branch out. The adjacent chart shows the cumulative effect with 421 loans to date, and over $10.5k lent. It surprises me in a pleasant way.