Tag Archives: Kiva

Our NGOs for 2016 are…

“If you’re in the luckiest one per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.” Warren Buffett

If there is a blog post that I am looking forward to write each year is this one. Few things can give you more pleasure than helping others (1). And in doing so I try to be as public and noisy as I can,  hoping that I may serve the causes we contribute to also from the awareness point of view.

Let’s go and see the different causes we decided to support in this 2016 (2):

Why am I “noisy” or public about these donations?

I know that between 100 and 200 of you will read this blog post. I bet with any of you that at least 50% of you will be compelled to take a look at some of these organisations above, 10% of you will consider making a donation. Do you dare thinking that 1% of you won’t actually make such donation?

I learnt about Kiva from Bruno back in 2009. Started contributing to Médecins Sans Frontières in 2010 after a conversation with Juan a couple of years before. I learnt from Slavery International at a temporary exhibit at the Museum of London. I started contributing to the sustaining of the Wikipedia after a tweet from Amalia. Discovered the Fundacion Hombres Nuevos thanks to my father’s 6-month volunteering in Bolivia. Learnt of Gapminder in TED. I started donating myself happiness with Fundacion Khanimambo after Nacho and Alberto. I started using the support to cancer research as a way to honour and encourage work colleagues going through therapy. I received the #IceBucketChallenge from Alvaro and Teresa. The latest additions, Avocats sans Frontieres and Movement du Nid, are ideas from Luca… and so on. After each cause there is someone who let me discover them.

If not one of those, I am sure that you will be able to find a cause, a NGO which resonates with you. Do yourself a favour and contribute to it. It can be just 25$, the cost of diner at a restaurant. You’ll feel much better.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” Anne Frank, diary of Anne Frank

(1) See this recent article from the World Economic Forum “Why being generous is good for your health“.

(2) You may check out similar posts I wrote about our contributions to NGOs in 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012.

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International Women’s Day, Global Gender Gap and backing women dreams

Today, March 8th it’s International Women’s Day. In the last few days I have seen a significant buzz in social media about the day. In particular I read a couple of pieces that made contribute to the buzz with this post.

World Economic Forum:

Equal pay benefits men, too. Here are four reasons why, backed up by our Global Gender Gap Report. [PDF, 6.1MB]

I liked the approach: “What’s in it for me?” (from the perspective of men, of course) (1).

Take a look at the report (395 pages). I skimmed through it and picked some essentials, especially from a couple of graphics. The Global Gender Gap Index measures gaps in 4 sub-indices: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival and Political Empowerment. The sources for the data are the International Labour Organisation, World Economic Forum, UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Central Intelligence Agency, World Health Organisation and the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The authors (Ricardo Hausmann (Harvard University), Laura Tyson (Berkeley), Yasmina Bekhouche (World Economic Forum) and Saadia Zahidi (World Economic Forum)) explain their methodology as follows:

There are three basic concepts underlying the Global Gender Gap Index, forming the basis of the choice of indicators, how the data is treated and the scale used. First, it focuses on measuring gaps rather than levels. Second, it captures gaps in outcome variables rather than gaps in input variables. Third, it ranks countries according to gender equality rather than women’s empowerment.

I attach below a screenshot showing the top 30 countries in the list.

Global Gender Gap Index, 2014 ranking, top 30 countries.

Global Gender Gap Index, 2014 ranking, top 30 countries.

Some comments to it:

  • Scandinavian countries are in the top of the list (no surprise here).
  • Some readers will wonder about the top places occupied by Nicaragua, Rwanda… read again the methodology above: “it focuses on measuring gaps rather than levels”.
  • When I see this kind of indices, for personal reasons I focus on the positions occupied by: Denmark #5, Germany #12, Netherlands #14, France #16, Spain #29, Lithuania #44.
  • A curiosity: Spain #29 vs. Cuba #30.
  • No surprises either at the bottom of the list: Bahrain, Turkey, Algeria, Ethiopia, Oman, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Guinea, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon, Ivory Coast, Iran, Mali, Syria, Chad, Pakistan, Yemen… which they all have in common that are located in arid subtropical zone and that most of them have at least one letter a in the name.

Coming back to the question: “What’s in it for me?” The report shows how countries in which the gender gap is lower also have good scores in several other metrics which improve the conditions of life for men as well. There is the catch. See below the comparison for the Human Development Index and the Global Competitiveness Index:

Human Development Index vs. Global Gender Gap Index.

Human Development Index vs. Global Gender Gap Index.

Global Competitive Index vs. Global Gender Gap Index.

Global Competitiveness Index vs. Global Gender Gap Index.

What can you do to help to close the gender gap? In your community you can do much. See this other open letter also in World Economic Forum from Belinda Parmar, “To men, for International Women’s Day“:

We need you.

We need you to listen. When we tell you about a problem, we don’t want you to jump to a solution for us. We just want to say it out loud to solve it ourselves knowing that you will support us.

We need you to talk. To raise the issue of gender. Don’t worry about saying the wrong thing. Saying the wrong thing is better than saying nothing at all. It’s the only way to start the conversation.

We need you to value our differences. Realise that we bring a different perspective and encourage us to bring our personalities to work, to not feel like we have to put on a ‘male suit.’

One step further: what can you do to help to close the gender gap in the countries at the bottom of the list? (those with the letter a in the names)

A few days ago I received an email from Jason Riggs of Kivathe world’s first and largest crowdfunding platform dedicated to alleviating poverty and expanding financial inclusion (about which I have written before in this blog (2)). Kiva has launched Kiva.org/Dreams to empower even more women to reach for their dreams and they asked me to help them in making this campaign more widespread. Thus, here is my contribution:

By visiting Kiva.org/Dreams, you can back a dream by choosing a woman whom Kiva should lend $25 to. There is no cost to you. By choosing her, you help her to follow her dream of starting or growing her business, sending her children to school, and ultimately, gaining financial independence.

When women have the resources to make their dreams a reality, the world changes. More children go to school, more food is grown, and nations are more peaceful and prosperous. A case in point: if women farmers had equal access to farming assets and finance, they could increase their crop yields up to 30% and 150 million people who go hungry every day would be able to eat.

By contributing to the success of an entrepreneurial woman who has overcome obstacles, we discover so much more about our own resiliency, possibility, and potential. Each of us has a part to play.

 Together we can make dreams a reality for thousands of women around the world. So in honor of International Women’s Day and the power of women, back a dream at Kiva.org/Dreams.

My suggestion: visit the site of Kiva, filter by Yemen, the country at the very bottom of the list and help dreams come true, gender gaps close and turning around the situation.

Happy International Women’s Day!

(1) I like the approach for its different persuasion approach, not like the closing the gap out of equal treatment, fairness, justice… wasn’t engouh.

(2) See other posts about Kiva: My 100th loan with Kiva“, “A Kiva success story

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My charities for 2015 are…

“If you’re in the luckiest one per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.” Warren Buffett

If there is a blog post that I am looking forward to write each year is this one. Few things can give you more pleasure than helping others. And in doing so I try to be as public and noisy as I can,  hoping that I may serve the causes I contribute to also from the awareness point of view.

I know that between 100 and 200 of you will read this blog post. I bet with any of you that at least 50% of you will be compelled to take a look at some of these organisations below, 10% of you will consider making a donation. Do you dare thinking that 1% of you won’t actually make such donation?

Let’s go and see the different causes I decided to support in this 2015 (1):

Kiva, Médecins Sans Frontières, Oxfam, Slavery International, Wikipedia, Fundacion Hombres Nuevos, Gapminder, Fundacion Khanimambo, American Association for Cancer Research Foundation and the new addition of 2015 Avocats Sans Frontières… those are the causes I decided to support this year. If not one of those, I am sure that you will be able to find one which resonates with you. Do yourself a favour and contribute to it. It can be just 25$, the cost of diner at a restaurant. You’ll feel much better.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” Anne Frank, diary of Anne Frank

(1) You may check out similar posts I wrote about contributions to NGOs in 20142013 and 2012.

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My charities for 2014 are…

“If you’re in the luckiest one per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.” Warren Buffett

I take for granted that most people are to some extent concerned by others and many contribute in different ways to alleviate others’ burdens. Some find it that these contributions should rather be kept private. In this regard, I take the opposite approach.

I try to be as public as I can, hoping that I may serve the causes I contribute to also from the awareness point of view. Take this blog post as an example. I expect that it will be read by over 100 people. If just a reader feels compelled by the message and decides to look for a cause to contribute to, the time spent by me writing this post will have been worth it.

Let’s go and see the different causes I decided to support in this 2014 (1):

AACR, the last organization I decided to support.

Kiva, Vittana, Oxfam, MSF, Slavery International, Wikipedia, Fundacion Hombres Nuevos, Gapminder, American Association for Cancer Research Foundation… those are the causes I decided to support this year. If not one of those, I am sure that you will be able to find one which resonates with you. Do yourself a favour and contribute to it. It can be just 25$, the cost of diner at a restaurant. You’ll feel much better. 

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” Anne Frank, diary of Anne Frank

(1) You may check out similar posts I wrote about contributions to NGOs in 2013 and 2012.

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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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My charities for 2013 are…

January is the month of the year in which I take some time during a weekend to select which charities and non-profits I will donate some money (1). Let me introduce you to the 9 NGOs I have selected this year:

Kiva: this is a micro lending portal. This is the first non-profit to which I made a contribution. This is not truly a charity, as here you give loans to small entrepreneurs in developing countries. I have talked about in the blog sometimes. This year, for the 4th year in a row, I have added some more funds.

Vittana: another micro lending portal. This one is specialized on credits for education purposes, very similar to Kiva in its conception. This year, for the 3rd year in a row, I have added more funds, to help some students study nursing and engineering.

Médecins sans Frontières: I started donating cash to MSF in 2010 while still living in Spain, in 2011 I became member of the French branch. This year I learnt what you can afford with just 100€:

Oxfam: another well-known NGO. Oxfam mission is “to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice”, this is the 3rd year I help them :-).

Anti-Slavery: Can you stand slavery today? In the XXI century? I cannot. This is why since 3 years ago I am contributing to this NGO which works to eliminate all forms of slavery around the world. 

Fundación Hombres Nuevos. My father retired in autumn 2011. In January 2012 he was packing to spend 5 months in Bolivia working in the field teaching some underprivileged children maths, language… or just helping them do their homework. I think that only my sister had such a good opportunity in the past 2 decades!

My father discovered this foundation in a TV documentary about 2 years ago:

That sparkled again a vocational aspiration he had since completing his studies and he went on to fulfil it. I’ll try to get him to write about it… stay tuned.

Brief comment about the foundation: It was founded by Nicolás Castellanos who received the prize “Premio Príncipe de Asturias a la Concordia” in 1998 along with Vicente Ferrer or Muhammad Yunus (who later received the Nobel Peace Prize and is credited with the invention of micro credits).

Wikipedia: When was the last time you checked the Wikipedia? How often do you check it? Wikipedia’s self-description:

“Wikipedia is a multilingual, web-based, free-content encyclopedia project based on an openly editable model. The name “Wikipedia” is a portmanteau of the words wiki (a technology for creating collaborative websites, from the Hawaiian word wiki, meaning “quick”) and encyclopedia.”

For the second year running I contributed to #keepitfree.

Gapminder: you might have seen some talk from Hans Rosling, its founder. Gapminder is “a non-profit venture – a modern “museum” on the Internet – promoting sustainable global development and achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals”, or better “Fighting the most devastating myths by building a fact-based world view that everyone understands”.

Have you got 13 minutes? Why don’t you check this video about “Religion and babies” and let his performance convince you?

Finally, let me introduce you to the new addition to my list of NGOs:

Fundación Khanimambo. I was introduced to it by two friends, Nacho and Alberto. I loved the message of the NGO: “¿Necesitas sonreír? Déjate ayudar (Do you need to smile? Let us help you). It’s wonderful, the children from Praia Xai Xai, Mozambique, want to donate happiness to people worried and stressed in the rich countries. To do that, they need some money to enlarge their school, buy more pencils, papers, etc… Let them convince you (less than 2 minutes):

Final reflection:

I understand that in these times of economic stress many will not have the opportunity to spare some funds needed by their own families to help others in need. For those of us who have a job, I truly recommend you to take some moments and go through some websites of different NGOs, charities, non-profits, scientific endeavours… I am sure you will find an initiative that will resonate with you. Go and direct some funds to it. You might feel a bit wary the first time. It’s OK. Spend 25$, 50€… (it’s only the cost of a dinner with your partner). You will not only help someone in need, you will feel much better after having done it.

If not for them, do it for you :-).

 ***

(1) I already published two similar posts in 2011 and 2012. In previous year I had set first 0.7% and then 0.9% of my net income as the minimum bar; this year I increased the contribution to 1.1%.

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Which NGOs will I support in 2012?

Every January I take one afternoon to direct at least 0.7% of my personal net income to different NGOs. I already explained this in a post last year. In that post I also explained the origin of the figure, 0.7%.

This year, I wondered how development aid was faring taking into account the crisis in which most of the big donor countries are in. You may check the figures at the extensive database of the OECD, or just to get the latest data on Official Development Aid you may check last year’s release announcing 2010 figures (or the report, PDF). The figures of 2011 won’t be released until April, but as far into the crisis as one year ago the fact was that development aid had actually increased, even if still far from the 0.7% committment.

Official Development Assistance in 2010 per country, source: OECD.

Evolution of Official Development Assistance through 2010, source: OECD.

Which NGOs will I support in 2012?

Last weekend I took sometime to make the numbers and select the different organizations. In previous years I directed 0.7% in January and along the year for different reasons I ended increasing this contribution. This year, I am directing already 0.9% of my income in January and again I expect that as the year goes by I will increase that figure. I take the Nordic OECD countries as an example and see the 0.7% as a minimum threshold, not as the maximum goal.

The organizations I have selected this time are:

  • Kiva: a micro lending portal, that I have talked about in the blog sometimes. I added some more funds.
  • Vittana: another micro lending portal, specialized on credits for education purposes, very similar to Kiva in its conception. I allocated some cash last year in it for the first time, and this year I have added more funds, to help some students study industrial engineering.
  • Médecins sans Frontières. I started donating cash to MSF in 2010, in 2011 I became member of the French branch. I renewed my membership.
  • Oxfam: a well-known NGO working “to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice” to which I already contributed last year.
  • Anti-Slavery: an NGO which works to eliminate all forms of slavery around the world. I find that only the thought of people being slaves in 2012 simply devastating. I already directed some funds to this NGO last year and I was positively impressed to find information about its activities when we visited the Museum of London last year.
  • Fundación Hombres Nuevos: a Spanish NGO working in development projects in Bolivia. It was founded by Nicolás Castellanos who received the prize “Premio Príncipe de Asturias a la Concordia” in 1998 along with Vicente Ferrer or Muhammad Yunus (who later received the Nobel Peace Prize and is credited with the invention of micro credits).
  • Wikipedia: I guess this does not need any introduction, but I will make use of Wikipedia’s self-description: “Wikipedia is a multilingual, web-based, free-content encyclopedia project based on an openly editable model. The name “Wikipedia” is a portmanteau of the words wiki (a technology for creating collaborative websites, from the Hawaiian word wiki, meaning “quick”) and encyclopedia.” This is the first time that I collaborate in its sustaining.
  • Gapminder: in their words “a non-profit venture – a modern “museum” on the Internet – promoting sustainable global development and achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals”, or better “Fighting the most devastating myths by building a fact-based world view that everyone understands”. If you have the chance, take a look at any of the videos of its founder, Hans Rosling, they are truly mind-blowing.

(Free material from http://www.gapminder.org – mind-blowing as I said)

Before ending this post, I wanted to make two reflections.

First, why do I or why do people/corporations make this kind of  contributions? Sometimes you hear criticism towards donations like “it’s for the tax deductions”, “it’s for marketing purposes”, “to show off”, etc. My personal view is that it doesn’t matter. It might be one or many of those reasons or none. What I believe is that the people in need do need the help and whatever the reason behind a contribution, it is welcomed. I do receive some tax deductions for the contributions for MSF and Oxfam as they’re based in France, not for the others. I also believe that the real contribution is the time dedicated by individuals working in cooperation, in the field, etc., in the end all what we give is a small percentage of our income / revenues.

Second, why do I write this post? Again, someone may think it’s show off. I’m fine with that. My goal is to get at least a reader to take a look at one of those NGOs, to think about dedicating her/his 0.7% to development aid… If I manage to do that, and I am sure I will (it worked in the past :-)), this post will be worth the time spent in writing it.

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