Welcome!

Government Cloud Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Gopala Krishna Behara, Raju Myadam, Kevin Jackson

Related Topics: Agile Computing, Microservices Expo, Government Cloud

Agile Computing: Blog Feed Post

Digging Deeper in Microfinance with Kiva.org

Kiva works by hooking up generous folks with microfinance lenders by promoting the individual beneficiaries on their web site


I have been a long time donor to Kiva.org, a peer microfinance lending site that has been around for several years. When I first heard about it I thought it was an interesting idea and donated some money to fund a few different third-world start up businesses.

Kiva works by hooking up generous folks with microfinance lenders by promoting the individual beneficiaries on their Web site. You get the feeling that your donation is going straight into the pockets of these worthy folks. And you can watch your donation be repaid in painfully small increments as the business owner (usually women) succeeds.

The only trouble is this isn’t quite accurate. The charity does support the individuals pictured on their site, but the timeline for how the funds are actually distributed aren’t correct. The microfinance institutions fund most loans before they are posted on Kiva’s site, so in a sense you are participating in a scheme of sorts.

I got started down this path with a story in the New York Times by Stephanie Strom (sadly, no relation) about posts by David Roodman, a research fellow at the Center for Global Development. Roodman blew the whistle on Kiva about a month ago on his blog, and many others in this space have chimed in. You can view them here.

Since then, the folks at Kiva have done an excellent job at fixing some of the misperceptions about their processes and releasing even more information to understand what they are doing. I believe they are sincere in their efforts and have acted with honor and well-meaning to address Roodman’s complaints.

But I am still somewhat confused, and the more that I have dug deeper into microfinance charities, the less I really know.

Kiva, at your command, will take the money that is repaid and keep it in their ecosystem, allowing you to re-lend your initial stake in $25 increments to new projects. You can also donate the funds to the organization if you are tired of choosing worthy recipients. I have made 8 loans in the past several years, some of them repaid in full, some still owing money. While it is frustrating to know that the inspirational stories aren’t really where my money is going, on the whole I am happy with the outcomes and glad that my minimal funds can make a difference in a few people’s lives.

I am also impressed with the whole Kiva quantitative ecosystem as well. There is a link to KivaPedia, a list of all their lenders and links to their Web sites, and KivaData, an independent Web site by Jon Earles which analyzes Kiva lending data. Neither of these efforts would be possible without Kiva providing data and programming interfaces to access it.

But the more that I thought about what Kiva was doing, the more questions I began to ask:

How about a “Kiva Gold” membership that allowed those of us who have been with the organization through a few loan cycles to bypass all the poster stories and go right to a lender that is delivering quality non-defaulting loans at lower interest rates and running with a low overhead? Wouldn’t it be better if I could direct my funds towards this lender? My thought on this is that if I already have a relationship with a lender thru Kiva and they have repaid my loan (or loans), then why not support them directly? Well, you can’t. Most lenders aren’t set up to take donations, especially in US currency or from US credit cards. They also have no real way to track what you give and what you get back. That is why Kiva is critical.

Plus, there isn’t any easy way to find them using the Kiva search screens, or any of the data analysis sources, at least that I know of. There are other microlending sites such as Wokai.org that show you the interest rates of their lenders (they can do this because they have just two lenders at the moment) and show how it compares with local loan sharks for their potential customers. Some of the interest rates charged by Kiva’s approved lenders are close to 20% a year, which sounds high to those of us in the first world with 5% mortgages but is typical for this audience. Wokai.org only allows three periods to recycle your funds before they take it from you and put into their general operations, which I am not sure I like either.

Another choice is Microplace.org, which gives you an actual investment return on your donation, but that isn’t important to me, plus their finances are hidden behind eBay (their owners) so not much in the transparency realm there either. And then there are the big microfinance guns such as Accionusa.org or GrameenFoundation.org — both of which have huge overheads and salaries as a percentage of their programs, which doesn’t thrill me either.

How about better metrics and data for the whole microfinance lending community? There are a few efforts here. For mainstream charities, Guidestar.org allows you to view their most recent IRS 990 reports, where you can exactly how much overhead they have and who gets paid what. There is also a site called MFITransparency, which is beginning to calculate lending and delinquency rates. And Mixmarket.org, which has so much data on lenders that even my operations research trained brain gets overwhelmed. One of the truisms of all this Web 2.0 mashup stuff is that the more data you make accessible, the more people want to analyze things.

I have come full circle on Kiva as a result of all this Internet research — meaning that I still like their model, their low overheads, and their high(er) transparency. If Kiva could add a way to search their lenders by interest rate or just bypass the individual stories, that would help.

More Stories By David Strom

David Strom is an international authority on network and Internet technologies. He has written extensively on the topic for 20 years for a wide variety of print publications and websites, such as The New York Times, TechTarget.com, PC Week/eWeek, Internet.com, Network World, Infoworld, Computerworld, Small Business Computing, Communications Week, Windows Sources, c|net and news.com, Web Review, Tom's Hardware, EETimes, and many others.

@ThingsExpo Stories
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
Product connectivity goes hand and hand these days with increased use of personal data. New IoT devices are becoming more personalized than ever before. In his session at 22nd Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, Nicolas Fierro, CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions, will discuss how in order to protect your data and privacy, IoT applications need to embrace Blockchain technology for a new level of product security never before seen - or needed.
The 22nd International Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, to be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, brings together Cloud Computing, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone inn...
Digital Transformation (DX) is not a "one-size-fits all" strategy. Each organization needs to develop its own unique, long-term DX plan. It must do so by realizing that we now live in a data-driven age, and that technologies such as Cloud Computing, Big Data, the IoT, Cognitive Computing, and Blockchain are only tools. In her general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rebecca Wanta explained how the strategy must focus on DX and include a commitment from top management to create great IT jobs, monitor ...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, discussed how they built...
Recently, WebRTC has a lot of eyes from market. The use cases of WebRTC are expanding - video chat, online education, online health care etc. Not only for human-to-human communication, but also IoT use cases such as machine to human use cases can be seen recently. One of the typical use-case is remote camera monitoring. With WebRTC, people can have interoperability and flexibility for deploying monitoring service. However, the benefit of WebRTC for IoT is not only its convenience and interopera...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
No hype cycles or predictions of a gazillion things here. IoT is here. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, an Associate Partner of Analytics, IoT & Cybersecurity at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He also discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Digital transformation - what we knew about it in the past has been redefined. Automation is going to play such a huge role in that because the culture, the technology, and the business operations are being shifted now," stated Brian Boeggeman, VP of Alliances & Partnerships at Ayehu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...