Today about 500 loans were added to Kiva.org and for the first time since team lending began in August the Kiva Christians team has surpassed us Atheists in the rankings. Now is the time to call out to our community and invite our prominent members to help us in the great cause to end poverty and engage in some friendly competition. In this spirit I have sent a $25 gift certificate to PZ Myers along with the open letter that I have reproduced below.
Open Letter to PZ Myers:
Dear PZ Myers,
I invite you to join our team of compassionate Atheists at Kiva.org. In order to get the fun started I have sent you a $25 gift certificate which you can use to loan, interest free, to your first entrepreneur. Be careful though, it's addicting!
We are currently in a time of financial crisis where people are panicking that they may not have access to the credit and banking services they have come to rely on. In the spirit of consciousness raising I would like to point out that billions of people live everyday in the horror that they cannot access a bank or get a bank loan. Imagine how life in North America would grind to a halt and we would all become equally poor if we were locked out of the banking system. Those without access to banking have next to no opportunities.
To solve this problem Professor Muhammed Yunus from Bangladesh started Grameen Bank decades ago to provide low interest loans to poor people without collateral. In 2006 Prof. Yunus was given the Nobel Peace Prize and his work and philosophy has spread like wildfire all over the world. One of his great discoveries is that the poor amazingly have a 98% repayment rate!
Fast forward to today. Kiva.org is a online service that links lenders with borrowers, through local micro lending institutions. In late August, Kiva launched team lending and I immediately setup a team for Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists and the Non-Religious and a corresponding blog to support the team. Back when we had a handful of members I set our first goal to raise $50,000 in loans. We are currently past $40,000 and have over 800 members. Once we smash our first goal... we'll set a new one. I invite you and your minions (of which I am one) to help us raise more money.
One of the most fulfilling experiences of starting this team has been that I've discovered that there are tons of Atheists on Kiva and we are dispelling the myth that Atheists are not compassionate. Until today we were ranked #2 but we've just lost our second place spot to Kiva Christians. I thought you might be able to help :)
The great part about Kiva is that when an entrepreneur pays back the loan you can use the funds to loan to another entrepreneur... so the fun never ends (or you can cashout the loan but that's less fun).
One last thing, there has been debate on the team message board (you have to join the team to see the messages) over whether Atheists should direct their lending based on whether a local micro finance institution has a particular religious affiliation or stance. Inline with our nature as freethinkers there has not been a resolution to that question. In the mean time some team members have created a GDoc which lists a few MFIs (Micro Finance Institution) that have no religious stance.
Peter from Atheist Monkey
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