Team Highlights

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

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Created by Edz


Created by Jim

Team Statistics

Created by Daniel R.

Kiva MFI Checker (for Firefox)
Created by Chris Means
Chrome version by Radu
Installation Instructions

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

New to the team?
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the Team
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)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Kiva Atheists raise almost 1 million in 1 year to end poverty.

It's been 1 year since Kiva introduced team lending. is an American non-profit organization committed "to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty."

I've been a lender with Kiva ever since I saw Bill Clinton, on Oprah, speaking about how individuals can help relieve poverty. I've had many conversations with friends about whether or not there is a responsibility for middle class people in the developed world to help out, over and above what our governments give out in foreign aid, those suffering from poverty in the developing world. The tricky issue for me was if giving handouts really promotes long term societal improvements or if those handouts are just horded by a few and used to take further advantage of the poor. Also, I'd rather teach a person to fish... And that's why Kiva is so appealing. Instead of giving people welfare and the reduction in self-esteem that comes with it; you are giving people trust and the opportunity to take responsibility for themselves and their family.

Since joining Kiva I've read up on Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, the pioneer of the micro-finance industry, and the amazing work he has done in Bangladesh. There has been real tangible results in Bangladesh and I'm convinced his ideas can make a real difference in ending world poverty.

I first heard about team lending on, a forum managed by Kiva lenders. It's the premier place to discuss everything Kiva related. I immediately thought it was a cool idea and went to look for an atheist team. There was none! So I decided to start one and a corresponding blog to spread the message. I called our team "Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists and the Non-Religious". I did this because I understand that those of us who do not adhere to any religion generally do not like to be labeled; and moreover we would never be able to agree on a single label. Richard Dawkins suggestion of "Brights" is an appealing label and idea but it still hasn't caught on. Without an inclusive group we ran the risk of splintering into a half-dozen small groups and no-one would notice our impact. Many people are not aware that our worldview is the third largest in the world behind Christians and Muslims and slightly ahead of Hindus. It's time to let our collective voice be heard!

Immediately people started joining the team. I set our first goal to raise $50,000 in loans in four months. Within the first ten days we raised $10,000 in loans. I realized at that point that collectively we could accomplish a lot more than I had predicted. One other thing I realized was just how many non-religious people were hiding in the woods only to come out when there was an appropriate place to lounge at Kiva. I guess when you know there's no superman coming to save humanity and you reflect on how closely related all humans are, you get a feeling that the more you contribute to the world the better it will be.

Immediately a community atmosphere began to form with active and interesting discussions. One of our more active members suggested we do a Halloween Loan-A-Thon which immediately caught on among other members. Our Loan-A-Thons are a way to challenge each other to deposit new money into the Kiva system and loan more then we otherwise would. We have 4 annual Loan-A-Thons; Halloween, New Years, April Fools and Yunus' birthday.

One year later and we have almost raised one million in loans. We are the largest team on Kiva and we've busted the myth that atheists don't participate in altruistic endeavors.

It's been a fun year... Our first real competition was who were first out the gate with a big team. By December 2008 we were in competition with the Christian team and the Obama team and shortly there after we became the biggest loaning team and have kept that honor ever since. I want to congratulate everyone on the team for contributing to a wildly successful year! I'd also like to welcome anyone who is just hearing about Kiva to sign up and join the fun!

By Peter

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Doctored Shock: A Reality

I'm not one to firmly believe in conspiracy theories but things do happen behind closed doors time and time again that simply cannot be ignored. I'm talking about global economics, inflation rates, elections, coups, war, import/export, rich vs. poor, genocide, global alliances, etc.

I feel that the issues above were never that appealing to learn about because they were barely a subject of discussion in school. Had I known a little about the woes of global economics and government alliances I would have chosen to more critically learn about these ideas in my later academic years. The reason for this is that when I don't know about something that is truly important to know in my life I don't feel safe. I don't really know what impact these things have in the society that I live so I remain ignorant to it. That must be what a government wants of its people-- to remain ignorant of important facts about the world-- considering that it is the government that educates us at the start of our lives.

Forget theories, the type of strategies that are wielded by governments like the US government in order to control other countries is horrifically scary and completely factual (read The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klien). The economic philosophy of disaster or shock fundamentalist capitalism has been breed right out of the US, particularly at the Chicago School of Economics. It is the result of much of the 'organized' terror around the world from past and present. Many South American countries like Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Bolivia have had their governments overthrown and people unemployed, displaced, and murdered because of the US right-wing economic philosophy of global free-market capitalism.

The idea that this philosophy is a means of spreading democracy is simply a myth and completely the opposite of the true goal of these so-called economists: the goal being to allow corporations to do as they please in a global free-market with low inflation rates in order to profit. Their driving force is greed and a complete lack of respect for other people. It is a type of reality that society has tried to overcome but instead this philosophy is planted deep within and has done nothing but impede societal progression.

Richard Dawkins has said, "we wish to live in a much more advanced society, a society that is far more advanced then a Darwinian society or a George Bush society" and it is very true. In the George Bush society, lead by right-wing economists influenced by the 'Chicago Boys', war, terror, and torture are the norm. The worst part of it is that in order to change global economies to fit their rules they must first wait for a disaster such as a labor strike or financial instability (i.e. high debt, hyperinflation) or manufacture their own disaster (doctored shock) in any given country that they would like to control for their own interests. These economists focused on South American countries like Brazil and Chile by organizing a coup in order eliminate the pro-poor, nationalist governments (read: European-style social democracies) and instead implement a new government, trained by the Chicago Boys, that would favor foreign investment. Unfortunately for these countries thousands of people were brutally tortured and murdered in order for the economic plan to operate effectively. There was a similar case in Indonesia. The worst part of it all is that many global corporate powers were also involved in the economic plan such as Ford Motors, GM, Citibank, IMF, World Bank, etc.

This type of economic shock was later seen in other countries like Poland and most recently in Iraq. The mastermind behind the birth of this philosophy was Milton Friedman, an American economist and a leader of the Chicago School of Economics at the University of Chicago. He argued that government could not manage economies and that people could too easily oppose government policies which would cause high inflation and low growth. He favored mass privatization and deregulation for the benefit of foreign investment and globalization. But his imposed ideals were nothing more than a nightmare for all the people who were effected.

It is astonishing to me that although many of these events occurred during my lifetime, I had no understanding of the severity of this economic strategy that now spans across many countries around the world. To me the meaning of democracy has changed. The US right-wing view of democracy is so far-off the mark that I am surprised that such a view has been maintained and advanced in society. It is a means to take advantage of people and have total disregard for human beings.

This is truly still a Darwinian society where we live as animals and only the fittest survive while the others are left out in the fields to die. We all need to be involved in the betterment of society if it is to progress forward not backward. The most important thing today is to be well-informed and mould our opinions based on the facts. I'm not one to firmly believe in conspiracy theories but this comes very close to the mark. The only difference is that it is not just a theory, it is a reality.

By Rajvee

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Kiva MFI Checker

Update: 2011-01-03

The Kiva MFI Checker has been around so long it deserves a preamble. Originally conceptualized and created by Chris Means, of our team, it was a Firefox Add-on that allowed you to flag MFIs when viewing Kiva lending search results on the classic/old version of the Kiva lend page. Support for that Firefox Add-on is discontinued. A new slicker version of the Kiva MFI Checker has been created as a Greasemonkey script. If you don't know what Greasemonkey is, don't worry, there's instructions below on how to install everything.

Meanwhile, as all that has occured on the Firefox front, another teammate of ours Radu has created the Kiva MFI Highlighter which is a Google Chrome extension that visually looks and works like a clone of the original Kiva MFI Checker created by Chris Means. If you still miss the old Kiva MFI Checker then follow the instructions below to get everything working in Google Chrome.

The Kiva MFI Checker is now coded to pull from three (3) managed lists of MFIs. One is a list of religious MFIs, the second is a list of secular social MFIs "the do gooders" and the last list is one for MFIs that don't expose a lender to currency risk. The lists can be set as blacklists or whitelists. You can add new Google Spreadsheets as a source list of MFIs. However, that requires some JavaScript programming knowledge. For beginners, the three most popular lists are included by default.

The MFI Highlighter on the other hand is still maintained using your own custom list and that list can act either as a blacklist or a whitelist. These tools are in wide use amongst Kiva Lenders not just members of our own team.

Here is a screenshot of what the results look like when using the Kiva MFI Checker:

(the loan with the black background is flagged because it's a Religious MFI and I selected the Religious MFI list)

This brings one issue to the forefront how do we know if an MFI is religious or not? How do we know if an MFI carries a currency risk?

To determine if a loan/MFI has a currency risk you just need to view the loan and go to the "About The Loan" section and there is a convenient field that lets you know if a corresponding MFI has an associated currency risk.
See this screenshot:

To determine if an MFI is religious or secular there is no easy convenient way to know for sure. Each MFI description must be read and the corresponding MFI website (if any) must be thoroughly researched. In certain cases it can be difficult to make a determination. It would be nice if Kiva (when they have time, as it's not priority #1) could make a new field (or checkbox) where an MFI administrator labels themselves as religious or secular.

Firefox Instructions:
For those who wish to use the Kiva MFI Checker here are some instructions:

1) You must be using Firefox available at:
2) Install the Greasemonkey Firefox Add-On, click here.
3) Install the Kiva MFI Checker script (currently at version 0.62). You can find it here:
4) Go to the Lend page, and you'll see a new "green bar" at the top of the page (just above the loan listings). The script defaults to the Religous list (as a Black-list), you can change it to use any preconfigured list (currently Currency Risk Sharing, and Social lists are also available), or if you only want to loan to Religous MFIs, make it a White-list.

Update 2010-12-05: Google Chrome Instructions
Radu from our team has created an extension for Google Chrome called the Kiva MFI Highlighter.

Instructions for Google Chrome Kiva MFI Highlighter extension:
1) You must be using Google Chrome available at:
2) Install the Kiva MFI Highlighter found here
3) Open the Chrome menu and go to Tools -> Extensions
4) Click "Options" under the Kiva MFI Highlighter for Chrome
5) Click on the appropriate field partner name and click the Append button. Alternatively, you can copy and paste a list of MFIs. I have provided the list of Christian MFIs below.
6) Go to you will see the name of the MFI highlight if it's in the list.

Here is the list of Religious MFIs:

By Peter

Update: Updated the MFI list on August 16, 2009. Thanks again Chris ;)

Update: Updated the MFI list on August 18, 2009. Added: CREDIT, a partner of World Relief

Update: Changed Gata Daku Multi-purpose Cooperative to Gata Daku Multi-purpose Cooperative (GDMPC) on October 10th, 2009

Update: Modified Religious MFI list to load from a Google Spreadsheet and added Pearl Microfinance Limited on October 17th, 2009

Update: Added "Fundacion D-MIRO Mision Alianza" to the list on November 22nd, 2009

Update: Added "Faulu Kenya" to the list on November 29th, 2009

Update: 2010-02-05 Caurie (MFI ID 105) changed to uppercase, Dinari (MFI ID 82) changed to MUK

Update: 2010-03-04 Added "Fundacion Realidad A.C (FRAC), a partner of World Vision International" (MFI ID 130) and "HOFOKAM Ltd., a partner of Catholic Relief Services" (MFI ID 163)

Update: 2010-06-20 Added
"Urwego Opportunity Bank of Rwanda (UOB), a partner of World Relief, HOPE International, and Opportunity International" (MFI ID 161) and "Amasezerano Community Banking S.A." (MFI ID 170) and "AREGAK Unversal Credit Organization" (MFI ID 152) and "Turame Community Finance, a partner of World Relief and HOPE International (Burundi)" (MFI ID 162)

Update: 2010-06-23 Added "Paglaum Multi-Purpose Cooperative (PMPC)" (MFI ID 126)

Update: 2010-10-31 Updated name for MFI ID 138

AASFSHNR & FSM in the news

Cathy Lynn Grossman from USA Today wrote an article focusing on our team in the Faith & Reason section of the newspaper. A think it's a good piece which brings attention to our team's raison d'etre and Kiva's important social mission. Hopefully Kiva see some new lenders thanks to that press.

Cathy asks in her conclusion if giving can be faith-free and still have "values"...

My response would be...

Giving aka altruism is a phenomenon of nature's animal kingdom and we humans are only one example of altruism in nature. People are genetically predisposed to altruism and not religiously predisposed to altruism. People, religious or not, don't get their values from religious doctrines. Our cultural "values" evolved naturally over time.

By Peter