The first time Jerry spoke to the audience, he asked whether it was necessary for him to use the microphone during the presentation. Considering how loud the next room had become (either another room’s speaker spoke too enthusiastically or the wall isn’t thick enough to block the noise), I strongly suggested that Jerry used the microphone throughout the session. His soft voice would certainly be lost without the assistance of microphone.
Jerry’s presentation was mainly about what KIVA is. KIVA was founded 5 years ago and just celebrated its 5th anniversary this month. KIVA serves as the facilitator bridging two parties: fund lenders and borrowers. KIVA was initiated as a concrete response to the bitter fact that the world’s economy is basically unfair in terms of welfare distribution. Too few people hold too big portions and vice versa. The world poverty eradication is also KIVA’s main concern.
KIVA envisions a world where all people, in even the most remote aras of the world, hold the power to create opportunity for the world.
Its mission is to connect people, i.e.:
- lenders to borrowers using internet
- connect groups of lenders with a shared interest
- sources of funds with micro finance institutions
- groups of borrowers and entrepreneurs
These reasons explain why KIVA thinks Indonesia deserves more attention:
- Indonesia has the most vibrant Internet environment in all of the South East Asia.
- It holds the second largest Facebook community rank all over the world.
- Indonesians are the third largest twitter users.
- Bahasa is the most widely used language on WordPress.
- Indonesia has the freest press in the region.
- Indonesia is poised to take the next step in Internet user development, economic growth and developing a culture of using the Internet.
So what miserable facts encourage KIVA to start financing small and medium enterprises?
- 94% of the world’s income goes to 40% of population
- 60% of people live on only 6% of world income
- Half of the world population lives on two dollars a day.
- Over one billion people live on less than two dollars a day
KIVA’s core beliefs and values are:
- the power of microfinance
- partnership relationships
- transparency : honest, truthful, fruitful
- the spread of technology
- lending is connecting
- industry inclusion
One thing to note is when Jerry asked the audience if translation is needed so as to make the audience understand his ideas better. It was truly helpful for audience whose native language isn’t English but this proved to be just a pet peeve for the discussion. The moderator (Kresna S. Soegio – a US Embassy staff) looked weary as he acted as Jerry’s interpreter, translating every Jerry’s sentence into Bahasa. In my humble opinion, backed by the assumption that everyone who ‘dared’ to enter the room is armed with basic level of English (they knew the discussion was conducted in English from the very beginning), this live interpreting felt like a waste of time and a source of frustration for the rest of audience who happen to have a fuller grasp of English.
There were three people asking questions altogether. It seemed to me that these three people showed a lot of interest in KIVA and definitely think that English isn’t a barrier to communicate ideas. The first person asked something about KIVA registration and Paypal (because Paypal sounds a lot strange even for most of average Internet users).
The second was a lady who I think managed to make a noteworthy point in the discussion. She stated that nearly all of the Indonesian entrepreneurs are NOT computer literate. Therefore ,how can we expect them to be Internet literate?
The last question was thrown by a young lady sitting in the back row. She apparently wanted to know how KIVA raised awareness on social networking sites like Twitter.
KIVA PART TWO
The last time I read the program book distributed to the participants, the third session was supposed to be US Embassy’s Youth. It looked like there was a ‘slight’ change of plan. KIVA once again occupied the room.
The last session, as I predicted, would lack audience. And it DID. Only a few audience were sighted in the room. What made things a lot worse was in the course of discussion, a flock of people preferred leaving the room! That officially made this discussion the ‘loneliest’ of all at Pesta Blogger 2010.
As my last effort to lift the discussion mood, I asked two questions to Jerry. The first was as pragmatic as it may sound, “What benefits will someone giving loans get after taking part in KIVA?” He described being a lender as a charity. You’ll get no interest, which means your money won’t grow after it is given back to you in the future. Of course, as it’s stated prior, KIVA is a social entrepreneurship organization. And the word ‘social’ equals to ‘charity’ here. One gets nothing but moral and spiritual satisfaction of helping others in need.
My second was “How can someone be qualified to obtain KIVA loans?” Jerry informed us the procedure to approve of an application is:
- make an application
- submit the application to a microfinance institution cooperating with KIVA
- the trusted microfinance institution plays a key role in deciding who qualifies and who doesn’t.
- KIVA provides the requested loan after the trusted microfinance institution declares an applicant’s eligibility.
Collateral isn’t an issue for people to get KIVA loans.Thanks to its commitment to social entrepreneurship, everyone doesn’t have to provide a collateral to take over as s/he fails to pay back the provided loan. Some cases of payment failure may happen, added Jerry, but that’s only a minority. One’s collateral isn’t an asset but other people’s reference and trust. So if you think you’re honest and hardworking but have no asset and are able to convince the trusted microfinance institution, being a KIVA borrower is one of the solutions. The last but not the least, Jerry highlighted that KIVA only builds partneships with microfinance institutions which treat their borrowers humanely.