Team Highlights

Kiva Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists and the Non-Religious


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*NEW* Comprehensive list of MFIs
Each MFI given a secular and social rating.

New to the team?
Read the Welcome to
the Team
post.
Loan-A-Thon Dates:
January 1+2 (New Years)
April 1+2 (April Fools)
July 1+2 (near Muhammad Yunus' birthday and many national sovereignty celebrations)
October 31+November 1 (Halloween)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Welcome to the Team

Welcome to the Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists and the Non-Religious team! You've found your way to the team blog. The team has three Team Captains: Pete, Jan and Nancy Somers.

This blog post is an attempt to bring you up to speed on some team knowledge that would otherwise take you a few weeks or months to learn by monitoring our team message board over at Kiva.

Want to know how to make your loans count for the team? You can't make any of your existing loans count for the team. You can only make new loans count for the team. During the process of making a new loan you will see a drop down menu where you can choose to count the loan towards this team.

There are no rules or guidelines for how and who you should loan to. The decision is up to you. Whatever decision you make you will be helping someone and that's what matters.

Some of our team members like to avoid religious Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs or Field Partners). For various reasons... maybe because some of those MFIs participate in religious evangelism or maybe because they contribute to the spread of false information. Some members of our team have sent emails to Kiva suggesting that Kiva have a new data field where the MFI information is displayed letting us know whether an organization is secular or not. They have said they will consider the suggestion but with no promises. In the mean time we have compiled a pretty good list of religious MFIs and a team member of ours, Chris Means, has created a plugin for Firefox (instructions) that highlights MFIs in your list right in the browser when you are surfing Kiva's loans pages.

Now that the serious business is over with let me tell you about some of the fun events we participate in. We have four annual Loan-A-Thons. On Halloween, New Years, April fools day and Mohammud Yunus' birthday. During our Loan-A-Thons we try and put new money into the system and have a fun and merry time making the world a better place.

Here is a schedule and description for each Loan-A-Thon (adapted from Joe's original summarization):
January 1st (New Years) - Make your Happy New Year by loaning capital to your fellow Humans who need it so that they can have their own Happy New Year!

April 1st (April Fools) - We're no April Fools! We will not waste our money tithing to a religious organization when we can do some actual good by lending capital directly to our fellow Humans who need it!

July 1st (Muhammad Yunus' Birthday and Many National Sovereignty Celebrations) - In honor of those throughout history who have thrown off the yoke of oppressive governments in July, we will lend capital to our fellow Humans who need it so that they can throw off the oppressive yoke of poverty! Also, we pay tribute to Muhammad Yunus's Birthday (June 28th) the Grandfather of Microfinance!

November 1st (Halloween) - The day after celebrating Halloween do something else to scare religious organizations! Lend capital to our fellow Humans who need it so that they can materially improve their lives and no longer need the false comfort provided by an irrational belief system!

Want to analyze our team's rise to the top by digging through some historical statistical data? Check out this cool Stats App by Daniel R. Many thanks to Daniel R for independently maintaining statistics of our teams performance and we owe him a debt of gratitude for it.

One thing to know about Kiva's system is that even though Kiva Lenders earn no interest on their loans, the Field Partner (MFI) charges interest. The reason they charge interest is so they can be a sustainable business or non-profit organization. The interest rates they charge sometimes seem high if you come from North America or Europe. However, there is good reasons for the high interests rates (which are much lower than the loan sharks in the respective countries). The reasons include, high inflation, high ratio between administration costs and loan amount, no collateral from the borrower, etc. Here is a good article (PDF) discussing high interest rates and MFIs.

Our message board at Kiva is not the only place to socialize with your teammates. Jim has created a Facebook Group and Edz has created a FriendFeed page that are more suitable for threaded discussions and multimedia links. A good place to find other Kiva discussions with the whole Kiva community is over at kivafriends.org

It's important to remember when chatting on the team board to be respectful of your fellow teammate. We may not agree on many things but we do agree on the inherent worth of all human beings and that we should try to solve our problems using reason and not superstition. Oh and please don't spam.

Cheers,
Pete
Team Captain (1 of 3)

31 comments:

Kaylea said...

You might want to give the actual dates of the loan a thons, some countries observe holidays differently and many folks (me included) are unlikely to have Yunus' b-day on instant recall :)

Kaylea said...

Also, it might be worth bragging a little about our awesome rankings & records, and putting in some links to articles that have publicized the team.

We could also include a brief guide to some of the local wildlife...EdZ, Martin... just kidding.

-K

Aaron Winborn said...

The google doc with the blacklist is not publicly available.

Aaron Winborn said...

Ah, http://atheist-monkey.blogspot.com/2009/08/kiva-mfi-checker.html has it, for anyone looking. Thanks!

Tropical Pete said...

I changed the link to the list on the KIVA MFI Checker page.

Thanks,
Pete

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Amy Subaey said...

Wait! I just read one little sentence that has really impacted my whole attitude towards Kiva.org - you said that some of the partners charge interest? high interest? How can we distinguish which loans/which field partners are 1) secular and totally non religious and 2) don't charge interest?

If KIVA can't do this on their pages, could the team possibly have a list of loans that they have 'filtered' and then we could go directly to the team page to choose our new loans?

Subh@N said...

My name is Subhan Ali, 22 years old, live in Multan but these a days i live in Islamabad. i am jobless from 6 months i have my own shop due to some reason i sold that shop so now i would like to inform you that I am in need of some urgent financial assistance. So please grant me loan as a help being human. Because i want to start my business again and i will pay back your amount in installments.

I would therefore request you to please consider my request sympathetically. I would be very grateful to you for your kind attention and obliged.

Thanking you,

Yours faithfully,

Subhan Bhuksh
Subhanbhuksh@yahoo.co.uk

Holly said...

I'm happy to have found this lending group. I made three loans before I found it though :( But I look forward to participating in future loan events as part of the team!
Holly
Memphis, TN

Holly said...

I'm happy to have found this lending group. I made three loans before I found it though :( But I look forward to participating in future loan events as part of the team!
Holly
Memphis, TN

Bantam said...

I am so happy to have found Kiva, and this team. I have been looking for an opportunity to give something back, and this seems like a BEAUTIFUL way to help. I made my first loan today, and am going to try to make one lending a month. Thanks a lot for having me! :-)

Professor Greenbaum said...

Help - Kiva help says

How do I add loans to my lending team?

Step 3: Add additional loans to your basket or click "Loan Added! Checkout."
Step 4: You’ll be taken to your basket where you can select what lending team your loans should count towards. Beneath the “Count Towards Team” column, you’ll see a drop down box with your preferred lending team’s name listed. Click that box and select the lending team you wish the loan to count toward. If you want to change the amount you wish to lend, select the amount in the drop down menu. When you’re finished, click "Continue."
I did not see a drop-down!

Tropical Pete said...

Professor Greenbaum,

First you must join a team. Then make sure you are logged into Kiva before adding the loan to your basket. Then you should see the drop down.

The first team you join is likely your default team and will be selected even if you did not see the drop down.

Cheers,
Pete

LostWeeknight said...

I wish I'd known about this team sooner, my bad. It would be great if you could send out invites to all Kiva members, or if Kiva would send out invites on teams' behalves. But now that this team is #! and the site-redesign features it prominently, it's easier to know it exists. Congratulations Team! I've already made 60 loans (and 19-$50 gifts), and each time I have "prayed" I was avoiding religious organizations in countries where homosexuality is a crime (i.e. they kill you), men have more than one wife, and women are stoned, raped, abused, or in any way denied equal rights. I know that's asking a lot, but I'm picky I guess. I realize the entrepreneurs don't make the laws and still need our help, but if they are staunchly religious there is a good chance they are staunchly homophobic, sexist, and racist. I needn't look further than my own backyard for confirmation.
Jeff-

(ironically the word verify for this comment is "behedler")

Saida said...

I call myself a Moderate Muslim, but I found this category closest to my ideas. I have given four loans earlier, but I found out that they are charging 30% of interest/fees etc. which I found very offensive, so I stopped giving and decided to find some other people to give loans through who are not supporting their own life style with my donation instead of helping the poor. Please show me the way to accomplish this.

Rachael Lohr said...

I made a loan and then checked to see which "groups" were also loaning. The Kive Athiests were ahead of the Kive Christians - I got a great chuckle and being an atheist myself, I just had to join. Wish I had done so *before* my loan to add to the group total!!

TD123 said...

I am a freethinker/atheist myself, and I find it appalling that this group has posted a list of organizations NOT to donate to just because they are religiously affiliated. The fact that this group would refuse to donate to someone because of their MFI's religious affiliation really shocked me. All people, no matter religious belief or lack there of, deserve our loans. Discrimination is discrimination, regardless of whether or not those being discriminated against believe in God. Perhaps in light of the fact that this group's Kiva info blurb states that they believe in the unity of humanity, we should realize that making distinctions about whether the MFIs are religiously affiliated is extremely hypocritical. I am so happy that all of this action has been taken to help those in need, and I hope we all continue to do so with the belief that we really are all one.

Hank said...

someone mentioned they're shocked that atheist groups won't donate to anyone. Here's my comment on that. I donated 10,000 dollars to a Filipino village that jumped in population from 60-100 in 3 years, even though malnutrition and tuberculosis were rampant. When I suggested to the group that I buy them all condoms, I was told they won't accept that gift, because they're Catholic. It is unfortunate and stupid that the entire village lives in poverty and disease because of religion! Plus, the money I donate can't possibly alleviate their misery. Henceforth, I am donating exclusively to secular causes.

Christopher Pryde said...

td123, is it "refusing" or is it "choosing"? I understand your take on it and I believe you have a valid point. But those of us who would make choices to send our dollars to organizations without religious goals or affiliations - I would not donate to the Catholic church or Scientology, for example - benefit from the ability to sort the list in this way. Many make the mistake that we automatically identify a believer as being bad and unworthy of human kindness. It's more that we are a secular group often preferring to support for atheist (AKA not theist) activities.

David said...

"We may not agree on many things but we do agree on the inherent worth of all human beings and that we should try to solve our problems using reason and not superstition."
I wouldn't think that any Christian group would be excluded from that line of reasoning. Our donations through Kiva are just as effective as any others and don't carry any message with them other than the fact that we genuinely care for people. Though you believe it to be superstition, that doesn't mean we cannot agree that alleviation of human suffering is a top priority. I think the only major difference is that we are commanded to do it while others do it for different reasons.

Ailsa Corinne said...

I looked at Kiva and apparently there is a group above you, but that doesn't matter.
I would just like to comment on your name. You put atheists, humanists and "freethinkers" all in one group? I am all in support for people getting along, but I think that adding that last one - freethinkers - is a complete misunderstanding and misuse of the word. It seems as if you are suggesting that anyone of any slight religious tendency is not a freethinker. I would reply that the vast majority (I admit, there are exceptions when people are brought up in a rigid society and have little choice of their beliefs) of people who are religious have chosen their own way of belief - genuinely they too are "freethinkers". They have freedom of thought, just as the next agnostic has.
Sorry, I think it is just too general a statement.
Before you ask, I am a Christian, but this is not the reason why I am writing this. I have not been brainwashed in any way in my life. I have been an atheist and then an agnostic and now a believer in God, but that is neither here nor there.

Tropical Pete said...

The majority of people follow their parents religion. They do not pick their religion from the numerous options based on free thinking.

Tropical Pete said...

Do you believe the gospels were wrtitten before or after pauls writings?

Nom de Plume said...

"TD123 said...
I am a freethinker/atheist myself, and I find it appalling that this group has posted a list of organizations NOT to donate to just because they are religiously affiliated."
I think you are misunderstanding. Some people would rather choose a secular MFI (for whatever reason), the list is there to inform their decision. Nowhere is it posted "do not lend to these people". It is information for those who are interested in using it. That's all.

Dave998 said...

Hey, I just looked at the 'community' tab on Kiva for the first time ever after years of loaning and was thrilled to see that this was the top group! :D Happy to be joining.

Luke W said...

I am Catholic, and being Catholic means being universal, an original translation of the word, Catholic. This group seems really closed off, narrow, and focused in their own pride and relative self-righteousness, and I would just ask you to be more open. Look at everything for how it is and then decide on where to go; don't lock yourself in one mindset too soon! There have been many miracles through the Catholic Faith that science cannot denounce. I urge you—without skepticism—to look up the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano (at http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/lanciano.html). Please know that I am praying for each of you.

worldmap said...

Luke -

I don't understand how you've come to the conclusion that this group is closed off/narrow/prideful/self-righteous. What here gave you that impression?

Some people don't want to donate to organizations that support religion because religion is often counterproductive to pulling people out of poverty. For instance, the catholic church preaches against condoms, resulting in overpopulation and the spread of disease. The bible itself very clearly places women as subordinate to men - whether or not this is explicitly preached anymore - and thus is nothing but an obstacle to the emancipation of women, one of the most important factors in bringing an area out of poverty.

It's lovely that the word catholic means "universal" - but words don't matter, actions do. The church would rather have a world of poor christians than a world without poverty. We feel differently.

Finally - I looked up the miracle of lanciano. It seems one man claims he witnessed a piece of bread turn into a piece of meat, 1300 years ago. Unless you believe everything anyone ever says at face value (e.g. salesmen, scientologists, UFO fanatics, politicians, witch trials) then I can't comprehend why you would trust this one guy is telling the truth about something so silly.

spiralofhope said...

http://www.adb.org/documents/books/interest-rates-microcredit/microcredit-understanding-dealing.pdf

This link is down.

Also, Luke is a moron.

dandus said...

Calling Luke a moron is hardly a good way of proving our point. This way you make us look like rude, uneducated people, which we defenetively are not.