By Meg Gray, KF10 Costa Rica
How do you decide what business to lend to on Kiva? And do you know what your biases are?
Besides being a Kiva Fellow, I am also an active lender on Kiva. Since I started lending in 2007, I’ve always had a few criteria that I’ve been aware of. I mainly lend to women with kids. They get an extra point in my mind if helping with the children’s education is mentioned as a priority.
But last month when I looked at the breakdown of my loans, I was surprised to see some other biases appear. I tend to loan in the Agriculture and Food sectors. A heavy majority of my loans are in Latin America.
Looking at my portfolio distribution provided food for thought. Without really thinking about it I made almost 50% of my loans are in Latin America. I’m guessing this bias happened because I speak Spanish and am currently working as a Kiva Fellow in Latin America. I think my bias towards the Agriculture and Food Sectors is a result of growing up on a farm.
Regardless of what caused my biases, when I received my “Your Kiva Credit is now available for use” email last month, I felt like I was much more deliberate about who I lent to. So I encourage you all to take a look at your portfolio. Do you have some hidden biases or does your portfolio reflect your lending priorities? To see your portfolio distribution, go to your lender profile and scroll down to the very bottom.
Looking at my portfolio with this in mind has me redistributing to other sectors and regions little by little. My experience as a Kiva Fellow has me leaning more towards housing loans. Though housing loans often sound like frivolous remodels in the client profile, I’ve learned that the addition of a small wall or patio can often make a huge difference in a family’s quality of life. I also think I’ll make another loan to Eastern Europe with my next credit since I’ve learned that these loans generally fund slower (for no apparent good reason). I would love to hear what you might change about your lending priorities after looking at your portfolio distribution.