Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Feliz Navidad

To my english speaking friends: Sorry about the one language only text, but I'm really in a hurry and spanish comes out naturally and faster in this kind of situations (the kind of situation where you need to leave on 20 minutes or your flight will abandon you!!!).

Buen dia amigos de Para Mexico. Estoy a punto de apagar mi computadora para viajar Guadalajara y Puerto Vallarta como hago cada Diciembre para compartir estas fechas de Navidad y Año Nuevo con familiares y amigos.Pero antes de irme, quiero desearles a todos ustedes unas felices Fiestas Decembrinas y un gran comienzo de año.

Nuestro equipo es joven todavia, pero no ha dejado de crecer constantemente dia con dia desde su fundacion. El total en prestamos en este momento es de $3,925.00. Con esa cantidad, 123 personas alrededor del mundo han sido beneficiadas con su generosidad. El numero de miembros, que las primeras semanas fuimos unos cuantos, ha crecido hasta 63, convirtiendo a Para Mexico en el grupo 60 en cuanto a numero de integrantes.

Este año ha sido dificil por los problemas economicos de nuestros paises, y 2009 no parece que vaya a ser mejor. Sin embargo, el grupo no ha dejado de invertir en Kiva y en sus emprendedores. Sin duda estamos convencidos de que la mejor forma de aliviar un poco la pobreza es dando una oportunidad a cada emprendedor para que por medio de su propio esfuerzo pueda conseguir una vida mejor para si mismo y sus familia.

Que nos espera el proximo año para el equipo? Al comenzar la primavera de 2009, espero organizar el primer "loan-a-thon" del equipo, como lo han hecho exitosamente otros grupos, y para motivar una alta participacion, regalar algunos articulos de la tienda de Kiva, tal vez un par de gorras y alguna camisa que seran rifados entre los que hayan participado en el citado "loan-a-thon". Tambien en Octubre, me gustaria organizar el segundo "M + M Challenge", pero ahora que nuestro grupo es mas grande, con una cantidad mayor. Cualquier otra idea para incrementar el impacto del equipo es bienvenida, este grupo es de todos nosotros.

Finalmente, cuando estemos compartiendo con nuestra familia estas fiestas decembrinas, tomemos un momento para reflexionar en aquellos que han sido menos afortunados que nosotros, y que estamos tratando de ayudar un poco.

M + M

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Kiva's New Repayment System

I know there is concern among not only team members, but the whole Kiva community about the total absense of payments for a good three months or so. We kind of knew that big changes were going on regarding the installation of a new billing system, and here are some answers on Kiva's official blog. The good news is that starting December 15, payments should be flowing to our accounts again. I'm reproducing the text for your convenience:

Kiva recently made the transition to a new partner administration system. The new system allows our partners greater flexibility in reporting and is aimed at increasing transparency, giving more accurate data, revising our billing process to better reflect realities on the ground, and adding some financial protection to Kiva by only giving our lenders repayments that Kiva has actually received.

What does this mean for your Kiva account?

Since we closed out one billing system and are opening up another, you shouldn't expect to see any repayments into your Kiva account until the new billing system kicks in on November 15th. Some loans that were posted in the new system will need an extra month to catch up and won't see any repayments until the next billing cycle begins on December 15th.

How does Kiva's new repayment system work?

Kiva's repayment system is designed to accurately reflect the way that our Field Partners collect funds from the entrepreneurs that you've supported with loans.

When one of Kiva's Field Partners uploads an entrepreneur's loan request to Kiva, they set the anticipated repayment dates for the loan and the date that the loan is set to be disbursed to the entrepreneur. This repayment schedule can be monthly, quarterly, once at the end of the loan term, or whatever most accurately reflects the way that the entrepreneur will be making repayments.

Our Field Partners have until the end of the month that each anticipated repayment is collected to let Kiva know whether or not they actually collected the repayment. Once we have all of this information, we use it to generate a bill to charge our Field Partners for all of the repayments they collected that month.

To speed things up and to minimize the number of wire transfers being sent overseas, Kiva works on a net billing system. This means that, for any given month, we subtract the amount of repayments that a Field Partner owes to Kiva lenders from the amount that a Field Partner fundraises for entrepreneurs on Kiva.

If the balance is positive, that means that the Field Partner has raised more than they need to repay, and we use those funds to credit your lender account with the repayments due to you.

If the balance is negative, then the Field Partner has 30 days to send us a payment for the balance. As soon as we receive that payment, we use those funds to credit your lender account with the repayments due to you.

Once the repayment is made into your Kiva account, you can re-lend the funds, donate them to Kiva's operating expenses, purchase a gift certificate or withdraw them into a PayPal account.

Why are all repayment due dates on the 15th of the month?

When one of Kiva's Field Partners uploads a loan request to Kiva, they provide Kiva with a schedule of repayments that they anticipate the entrepreneur will make. At the end of every month, Kiva requires that our Field Partners indicate whether or not they've collected these repayments from the entrepreneur. They have a 15 day grace period after the end of the month to do so.

After this 15 day grace period, we bill our partners for all of the repayments that they indicate they've collected. Our Field Partners then have an additional 30 days to make a payment to Kiva so that we can deposit the repayments into your Kiva account. The repayment due date reflects the last day the Field Partner can pay before the repayment becomes delinquent.

For example, if a Field Partner posts a loan with the first repayment on January 10th, we ask them to indicate whether or not they've received this repayment by January 31st.

On Feburary 15th, at the end of the grace period, we generate a bill to the Field Partner for all of these repayments.

The Field Partner then has until March 15th to pay this bill before we mark the payment on Kiva as delinquent.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

RSS and Kiva

A brief description of RSS and how to used it is posted next. Make sure to use this tool in order to receive up to date information about Mexican entrepreneurs seeking loans on Kiva. I'm currently using Thunderbird 2.0 to receive Kiva's RSS feeds into my mailbox, just like regular emails, and this blog is using RSS too: on the right side of this blog, immediately after Kiva Links, new information about Mexican entrepreneurs is posted as they are published in Kiva.

What is RSS Feed?

Given the vast number of Web pages and content providers on the Internet, RSS technology allows you to identify the content that interests you most and have it delivered directly to your desktop. Thousands of sites have developed feeds and you can view them all, regardless of source, using any feed reader. The most popular and descriptive definition of RSS is "Really Simple Syndication." You can think of a Web site's feed as a text broadcast of the site's content. Once you subscribe to a feed, you'll always have the latest headlines because your RSS reader periodically retrieves the most recent feed additions.

Where can I get an RSS reader?

There are many kinds of readers, from stand-alone applications to Web-based services, to those built into a Web browser. You will either need to download and install an application or install an RSS-ready browser on your computer. Follow the instructions provided on the Web sites listed below to install or configure your reader. Most of the applications are free and easy to use. Some of the more popular RSS readers:

The following Web browsers have built-in feed readers

Mozilla Firefox (Windows, Mac, Linux)
Opera (Windows, Mac, Linux)
Internet Explorer 7.0 (Windows)
Safari (Mac)

E-mail Programs
The following e-mail programs have built-in feed readers

Mozilla Thunderbird (Windows, Mac, Linux)
Outlook 2007 (Windows)
IntraVnews (Windows, plug-in for Microsoft Outlook)
R|Mail (Web-based service that sends feeds to any email account)

Web-Based Services
All of these services are free, and will work with any recent Web browser. All require registration and show ads as you read your feeds.

My Yahoo
Google Reader

Desktop Applications
These programs run on your computer, and will check feeds automatically whenever they're running. Those marked with a "$" are commercial software; the others are available for free.

Omea Reader (Windows)
SharpReader (Windows)
FeedDemon (Windows, $)
NewzCrawler (Windows, $)
NetNewsWire Lite (Mac)
NetNewsWire (Mac, $)

There is no need to install new software on your computer, you are most likely using a browser than can read RSS feeds right now.

How does Kiva uses RSS?

Kiva does provide RSS feeds. These feeds can easily be used to instantly deliver information about entrepreneurs into a RSS reader.

Currently, two field partners operate in Mexico, each one of them have a web page on Kiva that provides a RSS feed. All that you need to do is either click on the RSS orange button under the section "Kiva Fundraising Status"on the right side of the page; or provide the RSS address of each field partner to your chosen RSS reader. The web pages of these field partners and their corresponding RSS addresses are:

Fundacion Realidad.
RSS feed:

Fundacion para la Vivienda Progresiva
RSS feed:

Monday, December 1, 2008

November Stats

In November, the amount loaned and team's membership kept growing at a steady pace. The growth was not as explosive as October though, but considering the current economic situation, it was outstanding.

We have 14 new members who joined during November: George, Adalberto, Anonymous from Richland Center, WI; Sandra, Maya, Tinne, Hollito, Henry W. Moore School, Cozumel, Cesar, Priscilla, the Ysaguirre Family, Edie and Tamara. Welcome to "Para Mexico".

The first member from outside the North American continent joined the team during November, Hollito from Germany.

The total amount loaned by team members grew by 28% this month. Our team is ranked 87 on Kiva's community, with a total of 118 loans funded, at a average of exactly two loans per member.

Most of our loans are still going to Mexican entrepreneurs, with a good amount going to Latin American, a few more to Africa and Asia, and just one going to Eastern Europe and Oceania.

I cannot insist enough on using RSS to receive information about loans to Mexican entrepreneurs instantly. Those loans are becoming more scarce everytime and this is a good tool to receive a notification as soon as one is available. If you have any question about setting it up, please let me know!

I'm thinking about volunteering for the Kiva Translation Program, but with two little energy-packed girls at home it may be difficult to find more time to sit down and translate a few loan profiles. I'm sure it may be interesting, I'll post about that later.

M + M