I Need Your Help

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I hate asking for help from anyone for anything. For goodness sake, I’m a Texan, and we get things done on our own. 😉 However, if being a parent has taught me anything, it has taught me that sometimes you do need help from others whether you want to ask for it or not. Before I tell you what I need help with, I want to rewind a couple days to earlier this week when I was in New York City. I went for a blogging conference (I know, I sound like a huge nerd) that several other BoardingArea bloggers were attending as well. Just like last time I went to a similar conference with some BoardingArea bloggers, the big man himself, Randy Peterson, flew in for the night to take us all to dinner.

For those who aren’t familiar with Randy, he is basically the Godfather of Miles and Points. He was one of the leading forces behind the creation of Flyertalk, Milepoint, Insider Flyer, BoardingArea, and much, much, more. He is very connected with the airline and hotel networks, and seems to be in the know about all things at all times. Perhaps more importantly, he is one of the most giving folks I have ever met. Giving and helping are his passions in life, and he does it in such a sincere way that it is contagious. I know I have learned to give more because of him. While he was taking us to dinner and supporting us at the blogging conference this week, his wife was home alone in Colorado dealing with the “storm of the century”. None of us knew this at the time, but Randy’s tweets painted a clear picture of what transpired shortly after our time with him.

I have seen photos of the aftermath; people were walking in knee-deep hail!!! I’m not in Colorado, and I can’t help clear debris, tear out sheet rock, fix landscaping, or even bring over a hot meal from afar. However, I can (hopefully) help bring a smile to my friend’s face…..with your help. See, one of Randy’s favorite ways to help others is through Kiva.org. I have posted about Kiva before here (feel free to go to that post for more details), but basically you lend money to someone around the world in amounts as little as $25. They repay the money over time, and then you can “cash out” or re-lend the money to a new person. That is a very simplistic description of the process, but hopefully it helps you get the general idea. Of course there is some risk of not getting your money back, but Kiva does have a 98.94% repayment rate.

The Milepoint Kiva Team has just over 900 members, but Randy would love to see it hit 1,000 members as that is clearly a major benchmark. So, today many of the BoardingArea bloggers are banding together to try to make this happen. Don’t be surprised to see many similar posts about Kiva today – that isn’t an accident. This is officially “Smile Saturday” (or at least it is in my mind)! Even in the midst of stress and sadness because of what has happened to his home and neighborhood, hitting this milestone would almost certainly be a bright spot in Randy’s day and might even bring a smile to his face. It can also be a bright spot in the day for everyone who gets involved, and for everyone who is given a helping hand via a Kiva loan. What’s great is that you can do this without spending a dime. Right now all new Kiva members can make their first $25 loan for free! So, if you want to help Randy, help others, and even put a smile on your own face, here’s how you do it.

1. Join the MilePoint Kiva Lending Team!

2. Loan $25 for free.

Once you’ve joined and registered, find someone you’d like to help and give them a free loan. As you browse around, you should see orange “$25 Free Trial” buttons next to each loan. Pick one and check-out.

3. Smile.

Okay, this part isn’t required, but you earned it by bringing a smile to the face of others. It is “Smile Saturday” after all.

Keep in mind that you can use a credit card to fund these loans, and with a repayment rate of over 98%, it can be a great way to meet minimum spending requirements! Thanks for considering helping make others smile. I know you have put a smile on my face just by reading this post.  I’ll conclude with a shot of smiles with Randy earlier this year at the Freddie Awards.  Sure, it’s just a photo of a photo, but you get the idea.  😉

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  1. Thank you! I was feeling a little down this week and this was the perfect opportunity to erase my so called bad week and reach out to another human being and helo them. I will be SMILING all day!

  2. Always nice to think of others and remind ourselves how much we have been given and how much we can give in return. I am already a member of the MPKLT, so I cannot help toward the goal of 1000 members today, but I will be cheering the effort on!

    To Randy and his family, my sympathies and best wishes as you start to recover from the storm. As someone who was born in the NOLA area and who grew up on the Gulf Coast, I understand how suddenly weather can affect us all. But as long as everyone is safe and healthy, I am thankful for that, at least. I am also thankful for all that you have done for your global community of travelers–and non-travelers through your other efforts!

  3. Had heard about this effort previously but your blog inspired me to take action – Smiles and hugs make the world a better place; hopefully we can all relate to this feeling

  4. On the surface Kiva looks like an organization that helps people… but look at the interest rates they charge. How do you justify this as not be usury. Microlending was created to give alternatives to high cost lenders, not create more of them. Wouldn’t it be better to donate the money to the poor, or at least provide them with low interest rate loans. Many of the Kiva loans have rates above 50%. I would recommend people look into this organization very closely to make sure you’re not preying on the poor.

  5. Randy you are absolutely correct – I looked into it further and this is what portfolio yield means.

    Kiva uses a calculation called “Portfolio Yield” to express the average interest rate and fees that Kiva borrowers pay to the Kiva Field Partner administering their loan. Portfolio Yield is defined as all interest and fees paid by borrowers to the Field Partner divided by the average portfolio outstanding during any given year.

    The Portfolio Yield is generally based on audited financial information and is a better indication of the cost of borrowing money from a Kiva Field Partner than the simple interest rates reported by our Field Partners because it:

    a) Includes any fees associated with loans and
    b) Is expressed in one-year increments (similar to the way an APR works)

    SOME OF THE PORTFOLIO YIELDS ARE CLOSE TO 50%. I am going to stop all loans as such rates are like the pay day loans of the states.

  6. @Mommypoints… My spouse has been a supporter over my shoulder for months now. Today she is officially a Kiva supporter.. member #963!
    @Randy/Vivek, it is true that the portfolio yield can be high, however, I think that many MP Kiva team members use kivalens.org to pick their loans. I choose loans with a low Default % and high Partner Rating. The subsequent filtered results are predominately also LOW Portfolio Yields. So while I think it is helpful to provide the warning about high interest rate/portfolio yields, I would venture to say that most MP Kiva members are contributing to the high interest rate loans.

  7. Thank you so much to everyone who joined or considered joining! We just need 23 more team members to hit 1,000! For those who have concerns about Kiva, I do agree with what CarWag said, I would also encourage you to go talk (online) to some of the very active members of the MilePoint Kiva Team. They have met with the Kiva staff in person, and would be the best ones to address some of your concerns.

    No organization is for everyone, but again thanks to everyone who considered joining!

    • @Dan, oh my heart just sank for you when I read that. I’m so very sorry for your loss. What a fantastic tribute to her. My thoughts are with you and your family, and thanks for your generosity, especially at a time like this. My next loan is in the name of you and your mom.

  8. I just joined your milepoint KIVA team (under the name Kristen)! I attended the “Women Hold Up Half the Sky” exhibit this winter at the Skirball Center (LA) and it’s stuck with me since and will resonate with me for a lifetime. I wrote it up on my blog (including their partnership with KIVA). Such important work being done yet so much more to do. Thank you for your efforts and inspiring me to give again!

  9. Sadly, high yield is needed to keep field partners in business. I believe right now, Kiva field partners are making a loss of about -1.2%. Although the portfolio yields are high, you have to think about what’s involved. In many cases, many, many trips hundreds or even thousands of miles are required for a relatively small dollar value loan. It’s a bit different to you driving to visit your local banker and asking for a loan to buy a house.

    These guys are not preying on the poor, they are simply trying to stay in business so they can continue to help those that need them.

    There’s a great article about why MFIs have to charge high interest rates available here: http://www.cgap.org/p/site/c/template.rc/1.26.1309/

  10. @Dan – You’re another one of the good guys in this game, and I’m so very sorry to hear of your loss. My next loan is also in name of you and your mom.

  11. We hit 1,000 MilePoint Kiva Team members before midnight at the House of Miles! Thanks so much to everyone. Dan, I am honored to select the next loan in honor of your family. wijomas, thanks for the info and article link!

  12. Thank you for all your support.

    @Randy You raise a good point. These costs reflect the charges required to keep the Field Partners afloat and are better than rates the borrowers would get otherwise (if they could even get loans). Field partners do not gain from the interest rates, you can take a look at the Profitability (Return on Assets) and most often you will see the FP is breaking even.

    For many borrowers, Kiva and the local microfinance organizations are the only option to borrow money to improve their livelihood but Kiva and the FPs do their best to control costs and keep the repayments as manageable as possible.

    @ Dan, so sorry for your loss, I too will dedicate my next loan in honour of your mother!

  13. I think I joined yesterday afternoon when the team was in the 950s. Made my first loan and have a few more I’m keeping an eye on! Thanks, MommyPoints. Your blog is my favorite in the points world, even though I don’t fall in the “young family” demographic (maybe in ten years!).

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