Posts Tagged ‘University Microcredit Network’

It’s Been a While (Updated)

In Business, Computers, Development, Internet, Philanthropy, Poverty, Public Education, Technology on December 30, 2008 at 4:11 am

UPDATE: I have decided to try my hand at the Twitter-like micro-blogging service. I have named it Tefilah, the Hebrew word for prayer, to emphasize the focus of the site. Feel free to join and try it out. Hopefully we will be able to grow it to a vibrant community of Christians.


So it has been a while since I have written anything… I’ve wanted to write something for a couple of weeks now, but just couldn’t decided what to write about. I still don’t really have any idea, but I thought I would give it a shot and see what I come up with. I guess I will just go over a list of some possible projects I have been collecting in my head for the past few months:

Twitter-like Site     In case you have never heard of it, Twitter is an online micro-blogging service where you can keep your friends, or “followers” as they are known on Twitter, up to date about what you’re doing, where you are, or anything really. Your status can be updated via web or text, and it places your update in a timeline of all of your followers. For example, if I wanted to tell my followers that I was coming home to Puyallup for break, I could update my status to say “Jaryd is writing.” That would be added to my friends’ timeline, or even sent to them as a text or email if they have set their account to do so. The thing I really like about Twitter is that it is a non-obtrusive way to keep people up to date with what you are doing, thing, or where you are going.

But if Twitter is fine, why start another site just like it? Well it wouldn’t be just like that. The main difference would be that it would be used for prayer support or letting others know you have received an answer to prayer. It would be a non-invasive way to ask others for prayer support, or just keep people up to date on things that God has been doing in your life.

Honestly, it wouldn’t even be that difficult, thanks to the open-source software Laconica. All I would have to do would be to rent a server, install the server, and it would take care of pretty much all of the work. I would have to do a lot of work to get it up to the complexity of Twitter, though. I would love to be able to help people all over the world connect and support each other through the power of prayer.

I also would like to adapt this cool project called TwittEarth. It displays tweets (the name for status updates on Twitter) on a 3D globe showing the location of the user. It is a pretty cool way to look at the activity of individuals on a global scale. One last thing I would like to do is set up a daily verse for users to meditate on, or let others know what kind of meaning it has for them.

Mideals     I have written about this before in an earlier post, but I thought I would come back to it because I really do like it. The idea is that it is a commerce site in the style of Amazon, but users can set priorities on what aspects of a product or company are the most important to them. A user can set the order of importance of price, environmental impact, where it is made, the organizations the company supports, etc… Then a user could search for products or companies and the site would calculate which products match the user’s priorities and present them accordingly.

People talk about about what they feel is important, but at one point you have to put up or shut up. This could take away an excuse that keeps people from aligning their spending with their values.

University Microcredit Network     This was the focus of the last post I wrote, and I still like it. I believe microcredit will be one of the most fundamental tools the human race has in defeating poverty. As fundamental as the hammer for constructing houses, or the cornerstone of a foundation. Microcredit gives the tools to those that really have the incentive to use them.

I feel that the microcredit model of poverty reduction fits very well with college students. Microcredit is built around the fact that a little money can go a long way, and little money is something that college students do have. According to census.gov, there were 20.5 million students enrolled in colleges and universities in the United States (including under-graduate and graduate). I’m willing to bet that each student could donate $1 to microcredit programs and development programs.

Many microcredit program loans range from as little as $50 into the thousands of dollars. But for the sake of calculation, let’s say the average loan is $100. That makes for 205,000 loans made for the people around the world to better their situation, and most importantly the health of their family and the education of their children.

That’s just with $1 from each college and university student in US. That doesn’t seem all that unreasonable to me.

I will keep thinking over these to see if any of them speak to me enough to carve out some time to work on them. Let me know what you think about them, or any ideas you have in the comments!


University Microcredit Network

In Development, Economy, Philanthropy, Poverty, Public Education, Whitworth on November 3, 2008 at 3:51 am

I went to a special lecture last week about microcredit and its powerful impact on the developing world. From wikipedia:

Microcredit is the extension of very small loans (microloans) to the unemployed, to poor entrepreneurs and to others living in poverty who are not considered bankable. These individuals lack collateral, steadyemployment and a verifiable credit history and therefore cannot meet even the most minimal qualifications to gain access to traditional credit. Microcredit is a part of microfinance, which is the provision of a wider range of financial services to the very poor.

Basically, the working poor apply for small loans, usually starting around $100, to buy capital and start making greater profits in their businesses. The loans are repaid with very low interest, and then the borrower can then take out a larger loan to grow their business even more.

The reason that the borrowers need a special microcredit bank is because traditional banks will not give them any loans because they lack the usual paperwork, such as deeds and titles, collateral, and even a credit history; Thus, the banks see the poor as a credit risk. But, according to World Vision, 96% of the loans in their Microenterprise Development Program are repaid on time.

Organizations like the Grameen Bank, Kiva, and World Vision are taking the chance to help people escape from poverty. I would encourage everyone to take a look at these organizations and consider donating as much as you feel comfortable with. Even $25 can change the life of farmer.

What does this have to do with the University Microcredit Network? Well, the UMN is an idea I’ve been considering for a few days since the lecture. Since microcredit is all about small sums of money (which is college kids have), why not tap into the vast resource of poor, but activist-minded, age group of college students? If every university in the United States collected enough money for one $100 loan… well, it would be a lot! Better yet, what if universities and colleges built this into their budgets? Just a miniscule $1000 could provide much need start-up money for several businesses. And it is a drop in the bucket for many schools!

The UMN would be the eyes, ears, and hands for organizations like Kiva and World Vision. The purpose: collect money and educate students. There are a lot of lives that could be changed with small donations from poor students.

Heck, if people really couldn’t donate, what about investing. Places like MicroPlace (owned by eBay) offer up to a 3% return on investments. Good way to make a few bucks. (But I like places like World Vision where the funds are returned to the pool – a revolving door fund, if you will.)