aku-aku: v.. To move a tall, flat bottomed object (such as a bookshelf) by swiveling it alternatively on its corners in a "walking" fashion. [After the book by Thor Heyerdahl theorising the statues of Easter Island were moved in this fashion.] source: LangMaker.com. Aku Aku also has another meaning to the islanders: a spiritual guide.
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kiva: loans that change lives
Posted by dav at 2006 February 23 09:02 AM
File under: News

About a year ago, Mie and I watched an excellent PBS documentary series called The New Americans. It followed the lives of immigrants who came to America to try to build a better life for themselves and their families. We were touched by their struggles and strength and it made us want to find a way to financially help people like this, because it is often a relatively small lack of money that holds these families down. Mie found a way to do this in a way within her own social network which has resulted in some nice Pay it Forward action, but it wasn't really the sort of situation we had envisioned.

I had previously ran across the website of Kiva.org, an organization that accepts loans over the Internet on behalf of small businesses in developing countries. This is similar in concept to the microfinancing of the Grameen Foundation which made headlines with their Cellphone program in Bangladesh. The foundation delivered loans of a few hundred dollars to women in Bangladesh who used it to purchase cellphones and service plans. These entrepeneurs then created a sustainable business based on charging their neighbors per phone call. The payback rate on these loans was outstanding. "Grameen borrowers have [repaid] their loans at a rate of 99 percent, which is higher than credit cards, student loans, or home mortgages."

Kiva allows Joe Internet to participate in microfinancing by vetting loan applications and then collecting the loan principal via paypal. Unfortunately, when I first stumbled across Kiva they had already collected all of the money they needed to meet their approved loan applications, so I couldn't participate. Recently they approved a new batch from small businessmen in Honduras, Nicaragua and Palestine so today I donated $100 towards the Kiva loan for Ziyad Grocery in Gaza, Palestine.

Kiva will provide me with email updates throughout the term of the loan and I can also check an online journal for this loan account. When Ziyad al Kafarneh pays off his loan in 12-16 months, I will get my $100 back. I can then loan it out again or withdraw it. I'm excited about this system! As of this morning, Ziyad Grocery is still a few hundred short from the total $800 loan amount. Perhaps you'd like to join me in this venture? I believe the funding level can be as low as $25.


Hi Dav,

I see that you're in the San Francisco area and wanted to invite you (and anyone else interested!) to a Kiva fundraiser/party at Dragon Bar in SF on May 11. We're celebrating our recent successes - partnering in our 11th country and releasing the new website - and want to invite everyone who's helped make it happen.

For more information check out our event listing at www.kiva.org/about under Kiva News, or drop me an email.

Thanks for the support, and hope to see you there!

Fiona Ramsey
Community Relations and Operations Manager

Posted by: Fiona Ramsey on July 30, 2000 05:49 PM

I really like this! Hopefully Will & I can participate as well. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by: Ele on February 23, 2006 11:33 AM


Thanks for giving the heads up on this. I will definitely participate.

smiles, jen ;o)

Posted by: Ms. Jen on February 23, 2006 11:44 AM

So, is the Kiva program still active? I cannot find a working website.

Posted by: Holly on November 1, 2006 08:28 AM

It's still in operation, I think they're just having web site troubles at the moment. Check back again later at http://kiva.org/

Posted by: dav on November 1, 2006 08:46 AM

Hi Dav,

I am a fan of Kiva as well. In fact, I had the privilege of being at a presentation given by Premal Shah, Kiva's president, when he came to the University of San Francisco.

I recorded the event and decided to share it with you. You can find it here:


In fact he mentions the website problems after they were featured in a PBS show!

Best wishes, Tiago

Posted by: tcalves on December 19, 2006 10:29 PM

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