Tag Archives: default

My 100th loan with Kiva

Few days ago I gave my 100th micro credit with Kiva. This particular credit went to Philomene:

Philomene (image from Kiva).

“Philomene is 48 years old, married and has five children, ages 8 to 19. Her husband is a builder. She wants a loan to buy more fruits to sell, such as yellow bananas and passion fruit. The profits from savings will be used for paying children’s school fees.”

I got to know about Kiva from my friend Bruno at the end of 2008. I immediately liked the idea and I gave my first loan through it soon after, in January 2009.

The idea is very simple: giving micro credits via internet to small entrepreneurs in developing countries. Kiva facilitates the process establishing a website to channel the funds and creating network with local organizations which will disburse the money and collect repayments.

Since what you give is a credit, when it is paid back you can re-lend the money, thus, the same 25$ may be used by several entrepreneurs along the years. See my case:

Loan count since 2009.

Loan count since 2009.

The fact that I have given 101 credits of 25$, doesn’t mean I have dedicated 2,525$ in these 4 years. I have dedicated to Kiva just above 550$. With them I was able to lend and re-lend up to above 100 credits. Now I still have close to 400$ in outstanding credits (being re-paid), after having donated some 130$ to Kiva to help with their operating costs and having lost just 28.19$.

I want you to take a second to think what do those 28$ lost mean. The default rate along these 4 years in my case has been 1.5%, this is close to nothing. Take into account Western countries mortgage default rates: close to 10% in Spain, and though lower in USA it reached over 5% a few years back.

Of all the loans that should have already been paid (75) just 3 ended with a loss. In one I lost less than half of the 25$ and in other 2 thirds. The entrepreneurs came from Africa and I am not upset by not having gotten back 28$ from them. I just hope that their situation improved since the time they were forced to default. With the 3rd credit which ended in loss, I lost 0.06$… due to currency exchange, meaningless.

Do you want to know some more statistics?

See below a map with coloured countries being the ones in which a recipient of one of my credit lives:

My "Lending by Country" map.

My “Lending by Country” map.

  • In 67% of the cases the recipient of my loans are women (see Forbes article about higher ROI when investing in women).
  • The countries in which I have given more credits: Peru (see the story about one of the entrepreneurs there that I visited), Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Philippines, Pakistan…
  • Regarding sectors: agriculture takes 30.7% of my credits, followed by food (22.8%), manufacturing (13.9%), retail (10.9%), education (6.9%)… (I would like to give more credits for education, but within Kiva there are not so many displayed; to cover that need I collaborate with another organization, Vittana).
  • I told you that I was introduced to Kiva by a friend. I also sent many invitations and some gift cards to friends; 6 of my friends accepted them.

These were my first 101 loans. Loans that change lives


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Filed under Helping others

What actually happens when there is a default?

A couple of friends of mine used to point to me some months ago, jokingly or seriously, who knows,  whether it was a good time to buy Greek bonds due to the hight yield they had.

My response was always the same, I prefer not to meddle with state bonds, a lesson learnt from various sources and which I wrote about some weeks ago (“Inflation and assets” and “Hyperinflation and defaults in Europe”).

I guess that with all the recent turmoil in the markets and the news, one would feel less appetite for such bonds, but I still had a question: What actually happens when there is a debt default? Is the state not giving you a monthly coupon but re-starts paying the next month? Is the payment along a year postponed and re-started the coming year? Is the principal recovered?

Last week, while flying to Amsterdam I read an insightful article from The Economist about last Argentina’s debt default. The article is an eye-opener. It gives detailed account of the different difficulties and steps that creditors are going through to recover part of their money.

But as a point of reference, take the following passage:

“Argentina’s default, after a severe economic crisis, sparked social unrest and runs on banks. It subsequently presented creditors with a take-it-or-leave-it offer of 35 cents on the dollar. They considered this derisory: previously, delinquent countries had typically paid 50-60 cents. But the government stood firm and roughly three-quarters of the bondholders took part in a debt exchange in 2005. More joined in 2010, bringing the total to 93%.”

Then, what typically happens is that monthly coupon payments are stopped and creditors are presented with a take-it-or-leave-it offer of paying them back about 50-60% of what they had invested…

The 7% who didn’t join that deal are still going through legal battles. For you and I, that most probably are not going to enter into any legal dispute with a country, we are much better off far away from state debt bonds.

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Filed under Economy, Investing

Stocks vs. Bonds, 200 years

Some weeks ago I had two different conversations with friends. The issue: whether Greek bonds would be a good investment given the yields they are being offered at. I then argued that I didn’t think it was a safe investment, that many countries had defaulted payments, and as a value investor in the making I tried to explain that a much better investment would be to find out there some great stocks at a big discount.

I was also looking for some graphics to send them to prove the point. I had seen those graphics at the annual investors’ forum of the asset management firm Bestinver in different years. They represented how different the outcome of an investment would be for a person living either in Germany in the 1920-30’s or in Argentina in the last 15 years in case this person had invested in the stock market or in government bonds, supposedly safer.

In both cases the investment is much better off when it’s composed of stocks, as they represent a portion of a real company that continues to operate after the crisis and the currency devaluation/hyperinflation period that typically follows. The value of the investment in bonds is suddenly reduced to nearly zero… At that time I didn’t find any of those graphics in the Net, but the other day I found a similar one. Here it goes (note the scale is logarithmic):

Stocks vs. Bonds, 200 years comparison.

Please, note the difference especially between German and Japanese bonds and stocks. But also with US and UK stocks and bonds the difference persists.

The managers of Bestinver year after year repeat the same example: in those situations is much better to be invested in real assets, be it portions of an enterprise (stocks), chairs, and pencils, even houses… all these are assets that once the crisis is over will retain the value they have. However the paper money has no value once the nominal value is devalued.


Filed under Economy, Investing