Monday, January 14, 2008

KIVA & Kenya

I lend money in the micro-finance sector but in order to do that you have to do it through someone. Well almost 1 1/2 years ago I found KIVA. I started before it appeared on Oprah or the Today show. Not that it didn't help because it was so cool to see the businesses on Kiva flourish when it gets publicity on TV. Any I got this letter today to update me on the status of two of my loans....

Dear Kiva Lenders,
I wish to thank you for your continued concern and support during this
very difficult moment in Kenya’s history. We have been a peaceful
Country in a generally troubled region and people sort of took the
peace for granted.

The country is now battered almost to a pulp and blood spilt with
vengeance, senseless killings and wanton destruction. Markets, food
stores and shops have been looted. Hospitals are dysfunctional and
health centers incapacitated by riots and barricades. The violence,
death and destruction witnessed in the Country for the last couple
weeks has jolted the Nation into conscience and every body is now
craving normalcy.

While peace is slowly returning to all affected parts of the Country,
the impact of the riots has been devastating. Hundreds of people have
been killed turning thousands of innocent children into helpless
orphans and over one million people have been displaced, becoming
internal refugees over night.

The impact of the riots is most felt in the micro and small business
sector. Over 1 million small businesses were looted and or burnt down
destroying the only source of income to millions of Kenyans. Most of
the fighting and destruction occurred in slum areas in Nairobi,
Mombasa, Nakuru and Kericho in Rift Valley. These regions are home to
over 70% of Ebony Foundation’s clients and as you can imagine almost
all of our clients in these regions have been affected by the riots.
Only one region- (Mount Kenya) which is home to about 20% of EbF’s
clients was spared the violence. The economy in this safe region is now
getting stretched as the residents have to now house the displaced

We have recently completed auditing the riot’s impact on our clients
an das of yesterday about 4,900 of our clients had been badly affected by
the riots:

-- About 1,532 of our clients were displaced and both their homes and business premises burnt down. This population is currently housed in church compounds and police stations.

-- Another 2,479 clients had their business premises burnt down or looted leaving them with no source of income at all.

-- 833 clients had their homes looted or burnt down and about 56 clients are missing and feared dead or critically injured.

We arrived at these figures through a survey being administered at
holding grounds, police stations, and through reliable reports from
groups and community leaders. Our staff and local group officials have
also been committed to conducting field assessments. I am sending a
photo today which you may share with the lenders. The biggest tasks at
the moment are to feed and house the displaced people, and to finance
the reconstruction of the small businesses that were affected in order
to enable the people to reclaim their source of income. In addition,
Ebony Foundation is now helping other MFI’s audit their clients.

Eb-F has formed the following committees to address the above issues:
-- A humanitarian committee that is working with the International Red Cross to provide food, shelter and medical care to the victims.
-- A business reconstruction committee that is working with the affected clients to re finance and rebuild the small businesses that were looted and/or burnt down.
-- A compliance committee that is studying the legal and contractual aspects of the affected loans to arrive at the best policy action.

Thus, we ask for your continued patience as many loan repayments will be late, and it even may be impossible for some loans to be repaid in full at all. Thank you for your patience as we work hard to address all of these difficult issues, to serve our borrowers and help them recover, and to repay loans as quickly and as much as is possible in the coming months.

James Maina
Executive Director
Ebony Foundation

After this journal entry there was a ton of responses from many lenders saying their loans were forgiven. It was such a wonderful out pouring. THey were even saying when their people needed money for loans again to contact them again they would be happy to loan to them again. I know what they mean up until about 2 months ago our loans were paid in a timely fashion.

I could hardly stop the emotions. Hubby was asking me what is wrong. I said well you know I lend to businesses all the way across the world right? Well I mean you kind of know that I did this. Well this is the letter I got about the situation in Kenya. I read him the letter. Now Kenya was the 1st place I started lending money to. Its one the places I wanted to help the most. Being some of the hardest working people I ever see on tv when ever filmed I just wanted to help. Besides when you loan through KIVA its $25. I'm not saying its not a lot of money and I don't need it back but if I can make someone else's life better by loaning it them for a small amount of time. Then even if I had to go without going out for lunch for 2 days I would. I am just so hoping my 2 people are not dead. Its so sad the things that seem to go on in other countries.
I am so grateful for the many blessings I have.