Gamers for Change: It’s a Kiva thing
Posted on October 19, 2014
The world can be a dark place, but what can we do about it? I’ve been making small efforts in this direction for some time, but it was only when a friend inspired me to give it a flavour of gaming that I became really passionate about it. It’s one of the ways that I hope to make a difference in the world via Game Truck Australia.
I thought it through long and hard, and my best recommendation for charity/donations on a global scale is Kiva. Kiva uses the micro finance model pioneered by Nobel Peace Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus, who founded Grameen Bank after being inspired to help subsistence-level entrepreneur women in Bangladesh. Grameen is based on the idea that, according to Yunus, access to credit is a human right.
Kiva is similar: you lend someone $25 – this is a loan, not a donation or a handout. The loan and repayments are administered by a field partner with full due diligence and transparency. Over a set time, the borrower pays you back, and you are welcome to retrieve the money yourself or loan again and continue to pay it forward. This sets a virtuous cycle of capacity-building and independence.
It’s quite a remarkable model: the repayment rates are excellent: after over $1500 of loans from me only one loan has defaulted. Evidence shows that this kind of grassroots support can build the economic capacity of families, communities, and nations, and avoids the dependency and waste common with many forms of foreign aid. I particularly like it because it leverages existing mechanisms in ways that bring balance back to global inequity.
One of the functions of Kiva is to create teams where lenders can form small communities, track their loans and post messages to each other with email digests. My team is Gamers for Change, inspired by the Hearts and Coins project of Drew Taylor, a friend of mine. (Thanks to all those who contributed to the first H & C project and thus gave Gamers for Change a good start in the world.) Loans attributed to Gamers for Change are targeted at entrepreneurs who run businesses associated with gaming: often internet cafes, but sometimes gaming lounges or retail outlets. They are all over the world, but often in Latin America, for some reason.
Of course, because of Game Truck Australia I have an affinity for these borrowers and their aim to develop a business through video games. But I also have a deep belief that games can really be a positive force in the world. In terms of economic development and social stability, although gaming might be seen as a fairly high-end luxury product, if we can support leisure activities that are fun and social, this can only be for the good in the longer run. If you agree, you might like to join Gamers for Change on Kiva.
Here are some examples: Yirley Paola from Medellin, Colombia, wants to give children a ‘place where they can go and socialize away from gangs and substances that create addiction’. Other borrowers, such as Jeremias from the Philippines, who hires out video karaoke machines, are committed to providing their children with a good education. Young Luis from El Salvador lends his services to provide music to help people have a good time at parties.
There is a million stories like these, in all kinds of countries and industries – education, agriculture, services, green projects or sustainable development. If you like this idea of changing the world through gaming, please join Gamers for Change. On the other hand, if you don’t dig the gaming angle, you might like to join Kiva as an individual and give it a go – it’s certainly not your standard charity approach, and it allows you to make a difference in a way that is quite personal. If enough people get on board, we might get this big old ship called humanity back on course.