Wednesday, July 21, 2010
one hand at a time
Felipe Zapata is a hard-nosed realist.
Even new readers of The Zapata Tales quickly come to that conclusion. He is the guy you go to if you want your answers straight up -- and accurate.
Like all labels, though, that one does not begin to describe the complexity of the Sage of Pátzcuaro. Some may see him as a mixture of Andrew Jackson and Andy Rooney. But there is a bit of Mother Theresa thrown in for leavening.
If you scroll down the right-hand column of his blog, you will run into information about Kiva -- an organization that makes micro loans to entrepreneurs throughout the world.
The process is very personal. The borrower makes a pitch, and the donor chooses who gets the loan. When the borrower repays the loan, it can be used for another loan -- or the lender can re-pocket it.
Felipe does far more than promote this worthy cause. He has formed a donor team to honor his son who died in infancy. A very moving gesture to honor his son -- and to offer a hand to people who need just a little help.
His gesture touched me enough that I signed up almost a year and a half ago. Since then, I have made 31 loans to small entrepreneurs in 17 countries on 5 continents. All attempting to make a better life for themselves and their families.
Micro loans are turning out to be an incredibly effective phenomenon -- especially in underdeveloped economies. They are a method to evade the restrictions of government-controlled economies -- the type of countries where the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund end up helping only the ruling elite.
And the micro loans work. Small businesses grow. Families see their stake in life improve. Of the 31 loans I have made, none have resulted in default, and 13 have been paid in full. In a world of restricted credit, those results are amazing -- and heartening.
So, here is the pitch. Kiva is a great organization. If you want to have a part in making a small piece of the world a better place for some people to live, join up.
And if you want to join Felipe's team, I am certain he would welcome you on board.