Tapestry of Faith: The Wi$dom Path: An Adult Program on Money, Spirit, and Life

Activity 3: The Microcredit Revolution

Part of The Wi$dom Path

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Computer with Internet connection and a digital projector, screen, and speakers
  • Newsprint, markers, and tape
  • Optional: Handout 2: The Microcredit Revolution

Preparation for Activity

  • Decide whether you will introduce microcredit using the listed videos or using Handout 2, The Microcredit Revolution. Then, either make copies of the handout or preview two videos from the website of kiva.org, a nonprofit organization that arranges small loans for people who typically do not have access to such loans:
  • If you are using videos, test your equipment and queue the first video segment.
  • Carefully review Thinking about Microfinance so that you are familiar with what resources are available for congregations and individuals. Write on newsprint, and post: uua.org/finance/investment/sri/microfinance/

Description of Activity

Invite participants to dream a bit: If you had a small loan to start your own enterprise, what might that be? Solicit several responses. Then, ask participants if they are familiar with microfinance or microcredit. Explain that this is a system whereby individuals (or congregations) can make small loans to people who would not typically have had access to such resources. Show the two short films from Kiva, explaining that it is one of several nonprofits that facilitate such loans, or distribute Handout 2, The Microcredit Revolution, and invite participants to read it. Lead a discussion using some or all of the following questions:

  • How does this new economic system work around some of the constraints that exist in a poor community?
  • How does it allow people to survive—and to thrive? What are the spillover benefits to the larger community?
  • What might be some drawbacks to this system?
  • Do you think it is possible for all people living in poverty to benefit from microcredit?
  • Does microcredit compete with other more traditional help for communities and individuals dealing with poverty? Can it exist side by side with more traditional systems of help?
  • Which of your personal financial values are reflected in supporting a microfinance economic solution?

Allow about 12 minutes of discussion, and then pose some questions for participants to ponder. Say:

Microcredit offers a way to make large, complicated situations more accessible through the use of stories about individual or community hopes, dreams, challenges, and successes. How does the need to create stories that can be understood by potential investors empower those who use microloans? Can you imagine a downside to the microcredit revolution?

Simply pose the questions; do not ask for responses at this point.