Please welcome Julia Kurnia, Zidisha's Director, to milepoint

Discussion in 'Zidisha | Fostering Peer2Peer Entrepreneurship' started by KyRoamer, Jan 22, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. KyRoamer
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    KyRoamer Gold Member

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    Julia is an amazing woman and the driving force behind Zidisha. Her passion, dedication and energy have allowed Zidisha to attract 3,395 members and to finance almost 1,250 entrepreneurs Zidisha's peer to peer approach is unique in that while keeping borrower costs low, it allows lenders to earn interest. But you get to bid on each loan and if you believe the borrow needs even lower costs, you can bid a lower than offered (even 0%) interest rate.

    Anyhow, as busy as she must be, we are honored that she has joined milepoint and will be available here to answer questions and to educate us on Zidisha's mission. Welcome Julia.

    I would encourage you to also post on Zidisha's User Forums (https://www.zidisha.org/zidisha/beehiveforum091/beehiveforum091/forum/index.php?webtag=FORUM) so that the thousands of Zidisha members not yet milepoint members can participate and benefit from the discussions. The discussions there are most impressive both in content and tone.

    Most of all, please join Zidisha and make a loan. On the Lend page under My Account you will see Lending Groups. Click on it and wait a few seconds until the groups are arranged by total impact. Then select milepoint (now number two) and join our team.

    See you there.

    KyRoamer aka Mike
     
  2. fcjapan

    fcjapan Gold Member

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    Hi Julia!

    Thank you so much for popping around, much appreciated.
    I have had many questions arise. I am still new to Zidisha and tend to just muddle along and try to figure things out at first. Will try to put together a shortlist of things I can't figure out.
    I am very aware that you consistently answer all questions quickly and fully on the Zidisha forum, which I have found very helpful, but fantastic if you can spare some time on occasion to visit.

    1st question is when you were planning on joining the Zidisha Milepoint team? :D (kidding)
     
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  3. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    Hi Julia,
    On that last point I assure you he's not kidding.
    I am off to make a few more loans to thank you for joining us.
     
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  4. fcjapan

    fcjapan Gold Member

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    I am just back from making a few more loans to thank you for joining us :)
    But perhaps everyone would prefer a hello from you higher up on the thread, wouldn't want people to get attracted by the title and have to wade through to page 10 until you can get a hello in :)

    Also, I call dibs on asking all of the stupid and/or nonsensical questions.
     
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  5. fcjapan

    fcjapan Gold Member

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  6. Julia Kurnia

    Julia Kurnia Silver Member

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    Dear all,

    Thank you so much for your warm welcome. I am so impressed and thankful for what you have done to spread the word about Zidisha. As KyRoamer mentioned, we are a mostly volunteer-run organization and everything we've achieved is the work of individuals worldwide who have contributed their time and energy to our mission of advancing opportunities for motivated entrepreneurs in the world's poorest places.

    I'd be happy to respond to any questions you may have about our organization. In the meantime, here are some good sources of information:

    • Our Press page, which includes a listing of news articles about Zidisha: www[dot]zidisha[dot]org/microfinance/press[dot]html
    • Our e-book collection of Zidisha entrepreneur stories: www[dot]amazon[dot]com/dp/B009JC6V12/. You may read many of the stories at no cost through my Huffington Post weblog, www[dot]huffingtonpost[dot]com/julia-kurnia/
    • Our Zidisha member user forum: www[dot]zidisha[dot]org/zidisha/beehiveforum091/beehiveforum091/forum/index[dot]php?webtag=FORUM
    • Our newsletter archive, which gives a sense of how Zidisha has developed over the past couple years, and is also a good source of remarkable entrepreneur stories: www[dot]zidisha[dot]org/microfinance/newsletter[dot]html
    I look forward to being a part of the conversation here. Thanks again,
    Julia
     
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  7. Julia Kurnia

    Julia Kurnia Silver Member

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    Dear fcjapan,

    Good question! We currently expire loans that are not funded within two weeks manually. This is usually done the morning after the loan application's posted expiration date.

    Once our website programming resources permit, we aim to replace manual expiration of unfunded applications with automated expiration accompanied by display of the precise time of day the application will expire.

    When a loan application expires without being fully funded, loan bids are returned to lenders, and the applicant may start over by posting a new loan application.

    Best,

    Julia
     
  8. KyRoamer
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    KyRoamer Gold Member

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    Julia

    Do you still fund where less than 100% of amount sought is bid? If so, how do you handle that. kiva is all or none BUT its loans are mostly pre-funded.

    My basic belief is that partial funding is a disaster for both lender and borrower in most situations. If the borrower is willing to take the loan if 66.6% funded, maybe the write-up should say so and say how it impacts borrower's business plan.

    Mike
     
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  9. Julia Kurnia

    Julia Kurnia Silver Member

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    Hi Mike,

    When a loan passes its expiration date while still short of being 100% funded, we manually expire it and the applicant may not accept the partially funded amount.

    It is technically possible for an applicant who sees that his loan is going to fall short of being fully funded to work around this limitation by reducing the amount requested to be equal to the amount raised thus far, such that our website recognizes the application is 100% funded, and then accept the loan before it expires. A few applicants have done this in the past. However, the vast majority of the time, the applications that are not fully funded for the originally requested amounts expire, funds are returned to lenders, and the applicant tries again with a new loan application.

    Best,

    Julia
     
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  10. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Wait, do I understand that right? The applicant can change the loan amount after bids have been submitted by lenders? Up and down? Can they change anything else?
     
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  11. Julia Kurnia

    Julia Kurnia Silver Member

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    Yes, applicants can change the loan amount up or down (within their current credit limit) and the "Use of loan" text description. They can also change the offered interest rate, with the limitation that the offered interest cannot be reduced below any bids that are already made.

    Best,

    Julia
     
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  12. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Thanks for the clarification. I, unlike you, haven't thought this through properly, but at first glance this doesn't seem to be a desirable feature. When I choose a loan, the purpose as well as the loan amount are important criteria for me in selecting what I want to fund. Let's say I like small loans for "vegetarian" farming. I'd hate to see my loan turned into a larger loan for, say, buying cattle. Again, disclaimer that I may just not have thought this through sufficiently.
     
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  13. fcjapan

    fcjapan Gold Member

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    Not sure I like this feature either, has the potential to blow up and anger lenders if something like HaveMiles' example were to happen.
    On the other hand, just by not allowing edits does not mean the loan purpose cannot be changed. Once money is in hand, the borrower can use for whatever s/he likes anyway, so if intents change during funding, do we prefer not to know?
     
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  14. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Fair point. And I am not suggesting that there is going to be any (or widespread) bait-and-switching going to happen. I am just trying to understand the functionality and the use cases. I could, for example, see that fixing mistakes is a useful thing.
     
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  15. fcjapan

    fcjapan Gold Member

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    I don't see much potential for bait and switch either. But Zidisha could gain a bad rep if it were allowed to happen.

    And I see a lot if incentive for changing the loan description if you're not getting funded and about to expire.

    One possible solution might be that no editing can be done, but the borrower can add. Though this can already be done in the comments section.
     
  16. fcjapan

    fcjapan Gold Member

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    Speaking of which, I got an email from Zidisha for rescheduling of payments right after a loan funded.
    The borrower almost certainly knew this was to happen already while funding, which is another issue. But what I realized was that I had no idea of what the original terms of the loan were, everything edited over.
     
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  17. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Having worked on financial software for a good number of years, always maintaining an audit trail is something that I'd strongly encourage. It's just good business practice.

    The loan description could be handled wiki-style with versioning. So updates are allowed, but everyone can see what's happened and what the "diff" is.
     
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  18. zphelj

    zphelj Gold Member

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    Welcome Julia!

    No criticism here, just some random thoughts and questions.

    Is there a mechanism to see a list of loans by team or identify team participation on loan pages? Right now it seems to be relegated to glancing at the list of lenders on an individual loan and seeing if you recognize any names.

    I also wonder if you could make it easier to navigate to a team page? There's no link on my personal My Impact page or any link on the home page I've seen other than "Lending Groups" on my impact page or "Join a Lending Group" on the home page which then dumps out the entire list of groups.

    These sorts of things might be something to consider putting on your roadmap if it's not there already. Teams seem to be a powerful driver for the MP Kiva program and you've got a few of us now recruiting over here ;-)
     
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  19. Julia Kurnia

    Julia Kurnia Silver Member

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    Dear all,

    These are some excellent ideas, and I have made note of them so that they can inform future development of our lending platform.

    Currently all work on our website, including new features and routine maintenance, is done by a single developer based in India, and this limits the amount of enhancements we can introduce at any one time. His salary is funded by optional donations made by lenders. As lending volume grows, we expect eventually to have enough donation income to bring on additional web developers.

    We only recently introduced lending group functionality in our website. It does not yet have many features due to the aforementioned programming resource limitations, and also because we wanted to allow our lender community to inform further development of this tool. For this reason, I'd welcome your continued feedback and ideas.

    I know that many of you are familiar with lending teams from your involvement with Kiva. I'd be interested to hear which features offered by Kiva lending teams you most miss in our platform, and which features that are not offered by Kiva you would like to see Zidisha lending groups adopt. We have a long backlog of desired enhancements to our website, so I can't promise that even the best ideas will be implemented immediately, but they will certainly inform our future plans. Most of the current features of our website are the result of member feedback.

    Thanks so much,

    Julia
     
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  20. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    An impressive accomplishment.

    Have you considered bringing volunteer developers onboard? The world is full of great open source projects built by developers who do it not for a paycheck, but because they believe in what they are doing. Just a thought.

    Thanks for joining us here, Julia.
     
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  21. KyRoamer
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    KyRoamer Gold Member

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    I enjoy the statistics. I like knowing my loans outstanding, % delinquent, % defaulted, % by country, % by gender, etc.
     
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  22. Julia Kurnia

    Julia Kurnia Silver Member

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    That is good to know. Kiva does have much more comprehensive ability to categorize loans by gender, industry, and many other aspects that lenders care about. If we had a similar "tagging" feature, we could use it to both facilitate browsing of fundraising loans by category, and also for tracking of one's own portfolio of loans by category. Thanks for the tip!

    Julia
     
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  23. fcjapan

    fcjapan Gold Member

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    Hi Julia,

    The Zidisha Inc lending account/fund, how do you determine which loan(s) to save and how did you come up with 3% for interest rate? Just hoping for greater insight, and I guess watching the Director lend might teach me a thing or two ;)
     
  24. Julia Kurnia

    Julia Kurnia Silver Member

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    Hi fcjapan,

    That is a good question and something many others may be wondering. I've added the below information to the public "profile page" of the Zidisha Inc. lending account.

    The funds in this account are used to complete financing of loan applications which would otherwise expire, at interest rates that, based on historical trends, we believe are likely to ensure financial sustainability of the fund over the long term. Priority is given to funding applicants that we believe have made a good-faith effort to offer fair value to lenders, in terms of level of loan application quality and offered interest rate.​

    Is this helpful? Any other points you think should be covered?

    Regarding the 3% interest rate, that our best guess at the rate that, given historic currency loss and default rates at Zidisha, is likely to preserve the US dollar value of the loan fund over the long term. That said, there is absolutely no guarantee that future conditions will be a continuation of past trends. Historically, currency exchange rate fluctuations have been the greatest determinant of the changes in USD value of lender credit balances, and these are notoriously unpredictable. This is one reason we advise lenders to never use assets they cannot afford to lose to fund Zidisha lending accounts, and to look for social impact instead of financial returns as the "payoff" for lending through our platform.

    Best,

    Julia
     
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  25. KyRoamer
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    KyRoamer Gold Member

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    Well said. Social impact is the key. There are many safer ways to invest your money. Still this beats Vegas -- so far!!!
     
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