11 April 2009

The Simple Green has worked it's magic on the Klingon ship, so as soon as I get it remounted on a base and primed I will get back to painting it. The varnish debacle has led me to try something I've been reading about for some time but have never actually gone through with. There is a large contingent on The Miniatures Page who swear by the various brandings of Future Acrylic Floor Finish as the ultimate product for figure protection. It makes sense. It is an acrylic surface protectant meant to stand up to the rigors of constant foot traffic, so why wouldn't it be able to withstand the relatively light wear and tear of being moved around by gamers? I bought a bottle of it at the local mega-mart and will be trying it out whenever I get something painted.

One of the gals on The Miniatures Page posted a link to a site that I think is pretty neat. The site is called Kiva; their purpose is to provide small loans to entrepreneurs in developing areas of the world. The way I understand it is that people can go to Kiva's local partners with a business plan and apply for a loan to get them off the ground or expand an exisiting operation; the amount is usually a few hundred to a couple of thousand dollars. The local partner forwards a picture and a brief synopsis to Kiva, then the loan gets posted in the listings. Kiva users can then log in and browse the listings, choosing which loans they want to participate in. You can donate as little as $25, so a loan of $200 could have as many as 8 lenders or as few as 1. Once the loan is covered by lenders it is disbursed to the person and they use it to expand their business. After a certain period of time they begin to pay the loan back, at which point you get your $25 or however much you lent back into your Kiva account. You can pull the money out or you can forward it to another loan of your choice.

I think the delinquincy/default rate for the site is about 2%, so there is a small chance you won't get your money back. Each local partner has a risk rating based on their repayment rate, so you can choose your loans based on that and have a better chance of seeing repayment.

There are a couple of things I like about the site. The first is that it's not a straight-up charity. The loans are expected to be repaid after a certain amount of time. It's a way to help out poor people who are motivated to get ahead in life but lack the immediate means to do so. I also like that the loan comes back to you, so the same $25 can be recycled to another person and another person after that, and so on.

I enjoy the fact that you can browse the listings and choose which loans to participate in. If my mission is to further the worldwide production of poultry and goats, I can select to loan my money to people who aim to increase the size of their flocks and herds. If my goal is to increase the worldwide quality of auto-body repair shops I can chase that dream.

It is also attractive to me that the cost is small enough to actually participate. You aren't asked to front a whole loan of several hundred dollars. Twenty-five dollars isn't chump change, but it's three or four trips to the fast food joint or a box of Space Marines. I can afford to skip a meal or two and forego one or two hamburgers. That's enough evangelizing, I suppose. I wouldn't want people to think I'm some sort of bleeding heart who cries at sad movies or anything. Here's a link to my profile.

I think that's about everything I had to talk about for this post.

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