Aug 28, 2013 KV Kiva HQ
By Matt Flannery
An Open Letter About Kiva and Strathmore

Dear Kiva Community, 

If you’re a part of Kiva’s lending team community, chances are you’ve either seen or taken part in a conversation about the loans that Strathmore University recently posted to the Kiva website. We're listening. In this blog post, we hope to address a lot of the issues that have been raised and provide answers to many of the questions we've been seeing.

If this is new to you, here’s a brief recap: A couple months ago, one of our Field Partners, Strathmore University, posted a number of loans to cover full tuitions for students from low-income regions in Kenya who could not otherwise afford higher education. Soon thereafter, many lenders raised concerns because Strathmore University was founded -- as the school describes it -- with “inspiration and encouragement from Saint Josemaria Escriva” (founder of Opus Dei--an institution of the Catholic Church) and, as noted on its website, the school is a "Corporate Undertaking of Opus Dei.”

Lenders have been worried specifically because Opus Dei has a reputation for being very conservative, and a staunch opponent of LGBT rights. As evidence of this, several community members shared an editorial and guest lecture by Strathmore’s chaplain, Father Joe Babendreier, in which he states that homosexual acts are a sin. The biggest concern is that these views are being actively promoted in the curriculum and/or student life at Strathmore.

I speak on behalf of the entire Kiva team when I say that we’re very thankful to our lending community for sharing their views, along with this editorial and video. We also appreciate the work our lenders have put into learning more about Strathmore and helping us better understand these issues. Lender feedback is an incredibly important part of our work, and your voiced concerns are ultimately helping us improve Kiva as an organization. Thank you for that.

I do also want to take a moment to address the tone of the dialogue around this partnership. It’s worth reiterating that one of our core organizational values is transparency, so we have a deep appreciation for any lenders that voice concerns. But we also feel it’s imperative to keep this conversation healthy and constructive. Some posts have made assumptions and inaccurate comments about Kiva employees and their ability to effectively do their jobs. This is not constructive or conducive to working together to make the world a better place. As with all of our basic or full due-diligence Field Partners, the decision to work with Strathmore University involved our entire regional team and was approved by our Investment Committee--not just one person. We stand by our employees and the work they do to maximize the impact of your capital.

That said, on a personal level, I share a lot of the same concerns aired by our lenders. The type of anti-gay rhetoric expressed by Strathmore’s chaplain is very disheartening. We understand the damage and pain that it can cause, and I assure you, with no reservations, that the views expressed do not reflect any of our beliefs or Kiva’s organizational values.

This is what we do believe: That providing safe, affordable access to capital to those in need helps people create better lives for themselves and their families. At the core, Kiva is trying to do good in different regions and cultural contexts -- even when some of the values of a culture run counter to our own.

The unfortunate reality is that LGBT rights have a very long way to go in Africa. In seeking out a top-tier higher education partner in Kenya, we didn’t find one that was pro-LGBT. That’s unfortunately not surprising since homosexual acts are illegal in Kenya. Even as recently as 2007, 96% of Kenyans polled said "Homosexuality is a way of life that should not be accepted by society."

Obviously, we don’t support or encourage these views or policies. But, when we evaluate countries to work in and organizations to partner with, it’s natural that not all of our values and beliefs will align perfectly. We have to look at the full package to determine the difference Kiva can make. Ultimately, our Partnerships team and Investment Committee must make decisions by looking at the core purpose of an organization’s programs and how Kiva lenders’ funding can benefit people who are financially or socially excluded. Strathmore students are an ideal example. They’re bright kids with limitless potential, but would never have the chance to realize it without Kiva lenders who choose to support them.

Tuition loans outside the U.S. are rare. There are precious few partners willing to fund tuition loans because of the long repayment terms and grace periods while the student is in school. For too many young people, no matter how gifted they are or how hard they work, access to a college education isn’t an option because they don’t have the resources. At Kiva, we believe that access to education is where economic advancement begins. There’s no better weapon against poverty. That's why we’re also working to get loans to students in Colombia, Indonesia, and South Africa in addition to Kenya.

Why Strathmore? It’s one of the leading private chartered universities in Kenya, and is a privately-owned, not-for-profit institution. In addition to offering top-notch classes, curricula and programming, Strathmore was also that rare school that wanted to reach out to low-income students -- that wanted to expand opportunity. That’s why Kiva chose to work with them. In a country where demand for education far outweighs supply, it’s unusual to find a university interested in getting creative to help poorer students -- especially when their wealthy peers are willing and eager to pay. Kiva funding reserves these spots so lower-income students have a chance at them. And once they’re there, they have an even bigger chance to break the cycle of poverty for their families and communities.

While these are the reasons we were so excited to partner with Strathmore University, I also want to make sure to address the two big questions we continue to hear from lenders: “What is Opus Dei’s involvement with Strathmore?” and “Are they indoctrinating the future leaders of Kenya with hate speech?”

Following recent lender comments, Kiva’s Partnerships team thoroughly investigated Strathmore’s practices, student life, and more. We found no evidence of indoctrination practices. The core of Strathmore’s educational program is not religious. Its goal is to provide students with a strong, broad-base education to help them find good jobs and achieve their dreams. In fact, the school’s mission statement is “to provide all round quality education in an atmosphere of freedom and responsibility; excellence in teaching, research and scholarship; ethical and social development; and service to society.”

With respect to student life, Strathmore University does not consider religion in its admissions process. There is also no mandatory religious requirement and there are no religion classes even offered at the school. (See documents linked below)

The closest thing the school has is a business ethics class, so we sat in and listened. One of the chief concerns about Opus Dei is that it doesn’t allow freedom of conscience, so we wondered whether that would come up. Not only did we not see the propagation of any hateful ideology, but the professor also encouraged everyone to make up their own minds, and similarly promoted divergent opinions with the aim to create students who are independent, logical, critical thinkers. Of course we can’t sit in on all of their classes, and we also understand that there may be things said in some classes that we don’t agree with, but the overall takeaway is that everything we’ve observed does not point to systematic indoctrination of students.

During our visit we also found that there were many different religions represented in the student body. They have a chapel on campus, as well as a Muslim prayer room. There’s no requirement to attend religious services, and if all students actually wanted to attend mass, they wouldn’t be able to, as the chapel seats about 100 people (with a student body of 5,000).  

Having said that, we don’t intend to portray Strathmore University as a place that’s free from all forms of hate speech. The fact that the school is located in Kenya means that given the cultural context we described earlier, it’s likely that some individuals on campus, including Strathmore staff, might hold anti-LGBT viewpoints or beliefs (as we saw in the guest lecture video). Keep in mind that similar hate speech could be heard on campuses anywhere in the U.S. No institution that invites a diverse community to live and work together can be completely free of unfortunate comments and clashes in culture.

But what we have confirmed is that Opus Dei is distinct from Strathmore’s daily operations. It isn’t involved in curriculum development, and anti-LGBT views don’t have any place in the core mission of the university or the classes it offers. Considering all of these facts, along with the great social impact we believe these loans are having in the lives of Kenyan students, we will continue this partnership and give lenders the choice to support future students.

That said, we have learned a lot and plan to manage things differently next time around. To start, we know that we should have been much more mindful of Strathmore’s affiliation with Opus Dei and made that more clear on the school’s partner page. We’ve since added this information to the first paragraph. Please note, we’ve also decided to add text to all future Strathmore University loans highlighting the school’s affiliation with Opus Dei.

Another area of great learning for us was surrounding our marketing strategy for these loans. While we plan to continue to highlight different partners and loans that we feel are doing great things, it's clear from all the negative comments we've received that our efforts were too forceful. This is a huge opportunity for us to learn and work to improve future emails.

On the operational side of things, we’ve also asked Strathmore to spread out their loan postings for these tuition loans next year. We originally hoped that these loans would fundraise over the span of 2-3 months, but with delays in the process of gathering loan information and developing a robust loan program with a semester start date of July 1, their posting was unfortunately compressed to a single month this year.

In addition, we know that we should have done a better job at being prompt in our responses and formal communication about areas of deep lender concern. If you've been a part of the conversations happening on team message boards and feel as though your voices were being ignored, I speak on behalf of the entire team in saying that we're truly sorry. It was important for us to conduct a thorough investigation with a visit to this partner, and ultimately present a thoughtful and educated response -- and that process simply took some time. That said, we will absolutely try to be more timely with any future responses.

I also want to recognize a perceived conflict of interest since we have an office in Strathmore's business school. To clarify, Kiva's funding relationship with Strathmore is completely separate from our office space contract. We signed a lease with a separate department at Strathmore, paying market rates for rent after a thorough review of various options in Nairobi. And if this partnership were to end tomorrow or if none of their loans were funded, our office lease wouldn't be affected. We do, however, understand how having the office space could be perceived as a conflict of interest in this type of situation, and we should have been more forthcoming about this in our marketing emails.

Having acknowledged that, Kiva is fundamentally interested in doing good where and how we can. In this case, it’s about supporting students in Kenya and other countries who, without loans from lenders like you could not attend university.

Students like Lilian, a brilliant, budding computer scientist who grew up in the Masai territory near Narok, Kenya. Like so many bright students, she comes from a family that cannot afford to pay tuition. Her story, like so many millions of others around the globe, typically ends with dreams dashed. But many of you in the Kiva community came to the rescue, offering an 11-year student loan, which was funded in less than 24 hours. You can imagine the suspense Lilian felt as she watched her future change so suddenly, playing out on a computer screen. And the hope she feels now, knowing that a community of people from around the world believe in her potential. If you have a few minutes, you can see Lillian tell her story here

A few members of the Kiva team recently had the chance to have lunch with Lilian and are happy to report that she is taking full advantage of the opportunity provided by those Kiva lenders who chose to support her.

It's hard to deny the opportunity that Kiva loans provide to students like Lilian. It’s also difficult to deny that the opportunity provided to these students pains and angers some Kiva lenders because of Strathmore's connection to Opus Dei. There is no easy decision here. What we decided was to continue this partnership to do good where and how we can and to provide lenders with all the information they need to make informed decisions. We understand that some of you may disagree and we completely respect that. At the core, I believe we’re all in this together, and we hope you’ll come on this journey with us as we learn from you, learn from experience, and learn how to help even more people around the world with life-changing loans.

Thank you for your consideration,

Matt Flannery
CEO, Kiva

 

If you're interested in reading more about Kiva's partnership with Strathmore University, or if you have any additional questions, please check out our extensive Q&A.

Additional Sources:


Strathmore Bachelor of Hospitality and Tourism Curriculum
Strathmore Bachelor of Commerce Curriculum
Strathmore Bachelor of Business Information Technology Curriculum
Strathmore Bachelor of Science in Tourism and Hospitality Management Curriculum

 

Comments

Why doesn't Kiva put a link to the 2011 report from the Kenyan Human Rights Organization that discusses discrimination at Strathmore?

You can link to it in a comment. I think you are talking about this one http://www.khrc.or.ke/resources/publications/doc_download/14-the-outlawed-amongst-us.html

Great question -- for anyone that wasn't part of the original conversation in our lending teams, we spoke about that in a response to some initial lender concerns here: http://www.writeurl.com/publish/e6nv5b47pa6nhjiaeq85 (If you're curious, members of the "Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists and the Non-Religious" lending team originally wrote us a letter here: http://www.writeurl.com/publish/zbfbrc39ovw419rwbq20 )

Matt: While I agree with those who object to Opus Dei's attitude towards women & LGBT people, my bigger objection is to the size, repayment time frame and the lack of involvement by Strathmore in the loans. You don't address any of these issues in your response. $10K is not a micro-loan and is an incredible amount of $$ in Kenyan terms. As several people have pointed out, many other Kiva loans are impacted by one Strathmore loan. Ten business loans of $1,000 each could be funded for one Strathmore loan. Secondly, the repayment period ties up a lot of $$ for a very long time and this has additional impact upon other small borrowers. $10K is tied up for 5 years without repayment and then, the repayment trickles it. This is a lot of $$ not being recycled to small lenders. Also, I take it this is the tuition for the entire educational period, so if a student drops out, Strathmore keeps the tuition. Strathmore gets its tuition upfront, day 1, and has no obligation to repay the tuition to Kiva if the student drops out. Kiva assumes the risk, the student has the debt, but Stathmore has the $$. In California, where I live, students get their financial aide $$ year-by-year. Thus, if they drop out, they are not indebted for tuition they didn't use. I think a more reasonable approach would be to a year-by-year funding. Thirdly, you say Strathmore wants to reach out to low-income students, but you fail to note that they want to do this with other people's money. Strathmore should have some skin in the game, they should be funding some of the tuition themselves and soliciting only part from Kiva. If they were really interested in helping low income students, they would be using their own money, e.g. they could waive the tuition if they are really concerned about reaching low-income students. And as a final comment about 'negativity' I must say I am not impressed by the team of folks that came up with the Strathmore loans. Not being a conspiracy theorist, I am willing to chalk it up to sheer incompetence. How else to explain loans that are so out-of-line w/the standard micro-loans, both in terms of loan amount & repayment period? How to explain the lack of contributions to tuition from Strathmore? Strathmore gets 4 years of tuition money upfront with no cost to themselves?? Many of the folks who have offered conspiracy theories are really just trying to explain/understand how this happen. I am honestly perplexed by the decision-making by Kiva to get involved with such a questionable organization, an expensive, capital-eating enterprise.

Excellent response, I appreciate the honesty and transparency! As such an internationally oriented organization, it is only realistic that not all the opinions and beliefs of Kiva's partners will align perfectly with its lenders. I think acceptance on both sides would be a testament to Kiva's mission of making the world a better place.

Sorry, I don't buy it. You either stand up for what's right or you don't. There's no gray area here; there never, ever is when it comes to human rights. This reads to me like "we tried to hide it, got caught, but we're not going to change anything anyway, despite what Kiva supporters say". I do not like Kiva's relationship with Strathmore. Remember "appeasement"? This is it, 2013 style. I will be pulling my funding from Kiva and will place it elsewhere in an organization that is more aligned with my morals and who will stand up for what's right.

Well said, Matt. Despite my privileged background, I certainly would not be able to afford my current master's program without access to a student loan. Would it be fair to withhold a similar service to a prospective student in much more need than myself (or surely many of us readers who have utilized tuition financing) due to the university's charter? Social mobility is founded on opportunities for self-enrichment, and I've always interpreted that to be the goal of these loans. While a productive relationship with the field partner is necessry to continue providing funding to srudents in need, the goal has always been to empower the partner to provide these services to more individuals rather than simply to increase the partner's bottom line. Of course, I'm not thrilled about the views expressed by Strathmore's chaplain. But it wouldn't be right to withhold financing for a student in need, in response to the chaplain's views. Starving a student of their opportunity to progress seems to me a silly way to punish a university for its religious stance.

This is true leadership. Thank you Kiva team!

This only addresses one of the concerns raised about Strathmore. Another was that these large loans with a very long time till repayment lead to many smaller loans missing out, at a time when many loans are expiring. There was also disquiet about the tone of emails sent to Kivans pushing these loans.

I'm not persuaded; for one thing, you don't address the role of the Catholic Church and its Tea Party offshoot Opus Dei in perpetuating women's inequality. By framing this as only an LGBT issue, you've done a lovely job of marginalizing it and us. I think it's time to withdraw my funds from Kiva and find another microlender.

What the the heck does the Tea Party have to do with Opus Dei? I guess your response to the accusation of being marginalized is to malign another group that has nothing to do with the conversation. This does nothing to advance the dialogue.

It seems that Jolanta Benal was drawing an analogy: Opus Dei is to the Roman Catholic Church what the Tea Party is to the Republican Party: an ultra-conservative offshoot of an already-conservative group.

Hi Matt, I don’t think we should get lost on the main topic in this unfortunate situation. Discussing whether you can find proof of Opus Dei activity on campus or not or if a teacher or priest said this or did that or if students are pressured in certain directions or not, if an GLBT agenda is allowed or not is perhaps of less interest when considering the bigger picture. We together will never find any solid proof if a variety or practices take place or not. I believe you at Kiva when you say you haven’t found anything unusual on campus and that basic human rights are meet to the extent that one can expect in a homophobic and paternalistic society. Certainly not perfect but things are what they are at this moment in time. I suppose no one, Kiva or anyone else expected to find Opus Dei priests in hoods whipping students to obedience and openly training them how to follow their misanthropic path. This is not how it works, we as lenders know that and you at Kiva hopefully know that. It is problematic that you at Kiva haven’t got it right from the beginning. Namely the bigger picture why Strathmore exists at the first place and the role of Opus Dei and how they exert the influence they want. It would have been great if you had a better understanding of how Opes Dei works or any other secretive organization for that matter in how to create influence. I think you would have reached a different decision on Strathmore and picked another university to support. Here are the psychological aspects of Strathmore and Opus Dei and how it works . You don’t fund things if you are Opus Dei and don’t have an agenda. In the case of Strathmore the agenda is to, at a later stage, recruit tomorrow’s members and future civic leaders and other influential people to their cause. Opus Dei knows that they later on can’t reach all the former students at Strathmore and they don’t want all, and they have no need for all of the students. They only need a certain amount of talented well-educated people to promote their cause. But they need a pool to recruit from. They need a pool of talented people that are likely to be the future civic leaders and business managers in Kenya to recruit from and they need those people to have the right basic Catholic values to increase the chance of recruitment. Students trained at Strathmore are their pool and providing that pool is the main purpose of Strathmore University. The chance to recruit is their return on investment. Devious – yes – but still true! Strathmore provides their students with the standard Catholic values not only in teaching but through the campus environment. Values are discussed in class in various ways and are of course skewed towards the Catholic ways of viewing things. Not to surprise anyone, it is a Catholic school. But influence also comes from what fellow student’s talk about with each other. And that of course is influenced from what teachers have said but also what student’s bring in terms of values from home. And most students come from Catholic homes – naturally. Putting Catholic minded students with catholic teachers in a semi-closed campus environment and with ample opportunities to explore religious activities at campus is perfect for Opus Dei. This is OD wet dream where Catholic smart youths reinforcing their values and mirror themselves in each other and their teachers and priests and forging future catholic networks, what more to ask for? This is more than enough to create the influence you want at this point in time in the young student’s lives. Opus Dei will have their pool. You don’t believe me? Well then think of your home where you have your two-year old kid. In the home you create an environment that you think will benefit you child in the way you want. They have eco grown food, they are not allowed to climb the walls, they can only watch certain things on tv and you tell them what’s right and wrong. In other words, you have created an environment where you expose your child to certain things and others are left out because they are not seen as proper for some reasons. Children learn from being exposed to one reality, the one you choose for them. The same mechanism is at play at Strathmore. Exposure the kids to each other under the influence of teachers and priests in closed environments and you get what you want-This mechanism is so strong that you for show can allow some Muslim students or other deviant opinions (not GLBT of course since it’s against Catholic core values) into campus as long they are not too influential. And of course if you ask students if they feel oppressed or pressed to say, do or think certain things, they will say no. To the contrary they will mostly report they are very happy and they have their best time of their lives. And of course they have. They have nice teachers, they have friends that share their beliefs and they feel chosen, supported and seen by the university and they picture a great future for themselves. In fact, to many this is paradise. Let me give an example how this could work. Yesterday in my country – Sweden, a private school for students to very rich people was closed by the authorities because of a systematic bullying practice among fellow students, a practice that have been known for decades. All, including, the headmaster, board of directors, teachers, parents understood why the school had to be closed and all admitted that they all have failed to change the practice among students. The only ones protesting the decision was the student organization who strongly opposed it, saying that the school was fantastic, the teachers and headmaster alike and they had full confidence in the school and claimed that their lives were ruined. So – no – students to this kind of schools as Lundsberg in Sweden and Strathmore in Kenya are not to be trusted on their opinion about the school. Because the whole idea of having this kind of schools is to form students and have them think in certain ways and the students can’t see through that. So, Opus Dei is not sneaking around at campus preying poor students to join them – of course not! But make no mistake, through teachers and others they do are knowledgeable about future prospects. Most of the teachers are not aware they helping Opus Dei when they discuss promising students with a local business leader a priest or politician. But promising students in Opus Dei views get opportunities later when finished at Strathmore, and are picked up to join, other social clubs, religious congregations etc and Opus Dei are growing in into their lives through the very people they consider to be their mentors, colleagues, friends, partners etc. This is how it works, through exposure to the right values and building social networks that defines you, not only externally but also how you view yourself and who you believe you are and what is right to do and feel. Strathmore University is the place where Opus Dei can get knowledgeable of future prospects and give them the “right” basic values. Strathmore is a crucial part in Opus Dei’s effort to get and maintain influence regionally in Africa. If not – why would they spend the money and effort to create a top university of their own – instead of just funnel their money as charity to existing Catholic universities. They would never do that – they want influence and they need Strathmore to get that and they have the influence they need over Strathmore today and they will be able to recruit their future civic leaders so that influence can be maintained and increased. It’s a pity Kiva can’t see this and even more problematic, supporting student loans to this end. By the way, it’s very likely that the kids that are funded with Kiva money are the most likely ones ending up in Opus Dei’s claws! Why is that? Poor students admitted to Strathmore, some of them with Kiva money in their pockets are more susceptible to influence than their peers from more affluent families. Of course they are more susceptible to lot of things, not only Opus Dei’s brain dead agenda. Poor students are more likely to be thankful to the Catholic church/opus dei for admitting them, they are aware they got a once in a lifetime chance, they are more likely impressed with the shiny buildings, the sophisticated academic environment, the well-behaved and friendly teachers, the possibilities to engage in various activities at campus, getting friends etc. But they also have lower self-esteem and confidence in themselves (a consequence of being poor), they feel insecure in this new environment, they don’t know how to behave and they don’t know the social codes etc. All this adding up to that they are more likely than others to be victims of Opus Dei’s today and future influence on what to think and how to behave. In essence, they are pretty much perfect recruits for Opus Dei in the future. This is how it works Matt – you don’t need hooded priests with whips at campus to promote agendas – you should ponder this information and pull out from Strathmore– you don’t want to be associated with such devious practices neither do I. Anders

Amen.

My congratulations Anders for seemingly understanding so very well how things in Opus Dei work. Though I would have preferred your story to be more concise and to contain a logical argumentation. It is amazing how personnal resentment againts catholic organisations helps stating and maintaining your tunnel vision. If Opus Dei were so very anxious to have influence, it seems to me that they would have imposed themselves a long time ago in America as it has been the richest and most powerful county for decades. Also, America is one of the countries with most powerful religious pressures (remember it is the country with the highest number of extremist sects and where conservative movements like the Tea Party thrive). I have no evidence of Opus Dei being a powerful entity in America, nor of brainwashing students there. Have you? You write about your fears that kiva bursars at Strathmore are perfect recruits for Opus Dei in the future. I wonder where the Opus Dei members of TODAY come from. Have they been recruited on schools? Are african leaders of today Opus members? In the nineties, it was told that Opus Dei had lost of power in Spain. There it was more of a network of entrepreneurs. But by the fall of the RUmasa imperium, it lost a lot of influence. Anyway, networks are of all times, anywhere. Especially in America where people seemingly are much more religious and prone to follow sects than in other western countries. Nor do I agree with your statement "But they also have lower self-esteem and confidence in themselves (a consequence of being poor) [..] they are pretty much perfect recruits for Opus Dei in the future". It is very dangerous to state what others will or must think or how they must behave: it is difficult enough to express one's owns thoughts clearly and concisely. An other reasoning would be, that having reached this university as bursars on their own merits, not because of papa being rich, is a fountain of self esteem..... Brainwashing occurs if one lets himself been brainwashed and one stops to think for oneself. But the loan candidates are intelligent, and are lots more likely to keep thinking for themselves. Not like all the american brain deads following all those big mouths as that of Michael Savage, the blundering Palin woman or Terry Jones burning korans etc etc? Those belligerent people present a much bigger threat to the world, they have proven to be able to brainwash their followers. It seems to me you are a lot better of going to Strathmore university, especially as you don't have no other choice. I agree with Matt Flannery and am happy and proud to support 4 or 5 Strathmore students. I am helping to develop Africa! Take America for an example: that country has no democracy: everybody who has sufficient means can buy radiostations and the time on it, in order to propagate his or her ideas, whether preposterous, insane or only coloured by political ideas. By doing so, possibilities of other views to be known dissappear. (And if you donate enough money, you get a post as minister or ambassador or a big defense order for your enterprise). So also in America there are lots of schools where the values of these groups are propagated.

Correction: the text after " I am helping to develop Africa!" should have been deleted. Please do not consider it, it is a rest of a discarded argumentation

Flannery HIMSELF states this clearly In the 6th paragraph above:- "The type of anti-gay rhetoric expressed by Strathmore’s chaplain is very disheartening." That is the case against close liaison with Strathmore, yet Kiva remains in their bosom.

Dear Matt Flannery, Your explanation for remaining in bed with Opus Dei does not ring true. Also, I don’t think your carefully phrased response was intentionally insulting to Kiva’s GLBT and A+ teams, but that is the unfortunate net result. You seem to be dismissing as trivial the intrinsically anti-gay nature of Strathmore in order to sell us on some unclear benefits that Kiva gets because of this partnership; benefits that you think outweigh the aggressive anti-gay and anti-women work of Opus Dei/Strathmore; benefits that could be gotten through other less offensive allegiances. I haven’t figured out what exactly the real benefit is that you feel Kiva acquires by this unhealthy partnership but I suspect it will become clear to me as I continue to investigate this situation. My specific disappointments with your response are as follows: a) You are wrong in trying to convince us that the anti-gay objectives of Opus Dei are detached from their Strathmore University. You now have an office at Strathmore. Try announcing a Kiva program for gay students and their allies at Strathmore. Try flying a rainbow flag at your office and explaining to the students who ask that it is a sign of gay pride. Try passing out literature about the history of gay pride. A history that includes courageous activism in the face of exactly the kind of bigotry practiced by Opus Dei. Invite GALCK to have a weekly information/outreach session at your office. We on Kiva’s GLBT team are not overblowing the menace that is Opus Dei. Many of us are well schooled in the battles that dismantled Prop 8, DOMA, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and marriage inequality in a number of countries. If we had accepted your position/prescription on those issues, we would never have gotten the rights we have now acquired! On Strathmore’s Facebook page I asked, “Is there a gay students’ organization at Strathmore? Is there a gay/straight alliance at Strathmore? What protection do gay students have at Strathmore?” In less than five minutes, I was blocked from their page. I invite you and all Kivans to try this. The result is chilling and overrides your claim that the hand of Opus Dei is not steering Strathmore. Also, Strathmore’s equality statement does not include “sexual orientation.” b) Also, go to Strathmore’s website and search the word “Muslim.” It is not to be found therein. There may be a Muslim prayer room, but it is not mentioned. (I wonder how a Muslim student would feel about this line found in the student handbook: “Strathmore University (SU) operates in accordance with Christian principles of faith and morality[…]All students are expected to support, respect and comply with these principles. “) The only spiritual guidance is from the chaplains. They are exclusively Opus Dei priests. Their schedule of religious activities is extraordinarily large. Benedictions, confessions, processions and Catholic worship/prayer/sacramental services abound. The schedule goes far beyond what Catholic chaplains typically do at secular universities. This is proselytizing and indoctrination which is Opus Dei’s relmgoal. For you to suggest otherwise is absurd. c) You say, “But what we have confirmed is that Opus Dei is distinct from Strathmore’s daily operations. It isn’t involved in curriculum development, and anti-LGBT views don’t have any place in the core mission of the university or the classes it offers.” I certainly don’t believe that, and I think you also don’t believe that. Someday, you may apologize for having written that. d) Strathmore’s coat of arms is explained on their website. They say about the rose that figures prominently in it, “The rose has a supernatural meaning too. Love, with capital letters, is love of God. The rose also has a historical meaning associated with the life of Saint Josemaría Escrivá, founder of Opus Dei, who inspired and encouraged the people who started Strathmore: he once received a divine sign in the form of a carved gilded rose in a very trying moment of his life.” How do you suppose the members of you’re A+ team feel about that? Makes it very difficult to separate Opus Dei from Strathmore, doesn’t it? e) You seem to paint a rosy picture of Strathmore as a place that celebrates diversity. That is the veneer used by Opus Dei to further its agenda. They don’t run around in black cloaks, staging inquisitions and burning witches, but make no mistake about it: they espouse hatred over diversity. You are giving them a pass. You are not challenging them. You are not asking them the hard questions. Why? What is it they have offered in order to acquire your support? What could be so beneficial to Kiva that you would throw your GLBT and A+ teams under the bus to get it? f) I don’t think you understand that for an LGBT person to maintain self-respect, he/she cannot financially support this partnership even tangentially through support of Kiva’s other work. This saddens me because I had been proud of my association with Kiva. My husband gave me 100 Kiva dollars as a Christmas gift. It was one of the best gifts I ever received. I regret having to stop lending through Kiva but I cannot in good conscience continue to do so until you dissolve the partnership with Strathmore/Opus Dei. I am also conscience-bound to continue writing about this situation in the LGBT media. g) You say, “The unfortunate reality is that LGBT rights have a very long way to go in Africa.” That is true and it is perhaps the most offensive thing you said in your response. Your association with Strathmore/Opus Dei makes the road to LGBT rights in Kenya even longer and harder. The facts you highlight about Kenya’s attitude toward LGBT people should have made you do the opposite of what you have done by getting into bed with Opus Dei! h) In general, and to summarize the reason for my dissatisfaction with your response, you whitewash and distort Opus Dei’s control of Strathmore University. You override our alarm by saying you just didn’t see any evidence of anti-gay activity at Strathmore. You dismiss our objections as misplaced and exaggerated. Yesterday, on the anniversary of MLK’s “I Have A Dream” speech, we heard President Obama compare the battle for racial equality with the battle for LGBT equality. How can you not realize that the fact that you put Kiva in bed with Opus Dei/Strathmore is a blow to LGBT rights in Kenya and is an insult to your LGBT lenders?

+1 Well said.

It saddens me to see people whose pain has put them in a place where they can only hear their own voices. I hope they really do find a place to put their charitable donations that makes them feel better served. I turn to Kiva for hope, of the kind that Matt explains, and I can't listen to ideologues in this context. I wish the dissenters well, and would be happy to see this anger expressed elsewhere. You have a right to your anger, I just can't help you with it. Sincerely, Kate

Dear Matt, thank you for your thoughtful, detailed response. You settled many issues that had concerned me. While I was reading it, I thought that now I might be able to rejoin 2 teams that I had dropped because of vitriolic postings. Then I read the comments and saw that no explanation will be enough for some of our members. When I read Bob Greeen's, "The International Bank..." I was shocked to realize that we made loans to people in Rwanda who had been on both sides of the genocide. Bob did a great job of explaining Kiva's intentional blindness to other issues when it comes to supporting individuals in need. I started thinking about other issues. We don't screen for whether a man beats his wife. We don't screen for whether an employer intends to hire fairly from other tribes. We don't even screen for whether local customs allow parents to sell their children. We trust that local partners will post people who need money, have a plan, and are likely to repay. I went to a very conservative university. Unlike at Strathmore, I was required to take religion courses and attend chapel. My ability to think for myself was not impaired. Thank you for continuing to allow me to make loans to young people like Lilian. To deny her the best available education is to punish her for something that Strathmore might or might not do. And thanks again for clarifying Kiva's position.

Hi Karen, THank you for your post, your comments about not screening for men beating their wives etc etc was most enlightening to me. I quite agree. I went to a catholic school, was not abused, learned a lot, followed religious classes, but was always encouraged to think for myself. I now am an non-practisising catholic, trying to improve the world by loaning through kiva. And I do get satisfaction from seeing that through loans some students get the chances to learn like I got them. I feel that some of the successes of Lilian and other Strathmore bursars are a tiny bit mine! ;) I will continue supporting Strathmore and other students whenever I can! I keep faith in the reasoning abilities of our students!

I do appreciate the response, but it doesn't go far enough for me. I think Tony's suggest (a) is particularly inspired - if there are no organisations you can work with in Kenya to promote equal human rights, I want to see Kiva become that organisation. You're perfectly placed with your new regional office to do some very important social outreach and help the culture to change. And photographs of the office on campus decorated with rainbow flags would encourage at least me to donate when I make the next loan. The other thing I 'd like to see is an update of the HRC report - have things changed in the last 2 years? To be honest, I have more confidence in their research methodology to identify discrimination on campus, because Strathmore have a very vested interest in controlling what you see and who you speak to in an unsupervised manner. Using Kiva's leverage to give the HRC access to speak to students and other interested people would be more reassuring than you telling us you haven't observed any discrimination, and that you've been told they don't blacklist LGBT-friendly organisations for internships. I also still have concerns about the financial impact on the student, and other borrowers. Not least, given they get an interest-free loan from lenders, but have to repay it with interest to Strathmore. Why do they have to borrow all 3-4 years of fees at once, when they could borrow a year at a time (with repayments still deferred), and not build up extra interest? What I mean is, if they have a choice between borrowing year 4 at the start, and paying an extra 3 years interest on it once they graduate, or taking 4 much smaller loans, which don't start accumulating interest until much later, surely the better thing is to only borrow what they need in each year. That would also protect the students who are unable to finish their course - with the best will in the world, not every student will graduate, because people get ill, or have family crises that mean they can't continue, and if they've borrowed all the money up-front, they're going to end up with unmanageable debt. If they're able to stop borrowing what they don't need, they're more likely to be able to repay it. And this would also have the bonus of not overwhelming lenders with too much all at once - the loans to Strathmore students, for those willing to fund them, would be a quarter of what they were this year, and wouldn't lead to so many other loans expiring unfilled. And with those criticisms, I would just like to add a note of appreciation that Brandon came into the comments to add a link to the open letter - that transparent acknowledgement of criticism is very refreshing (and at the same time, it's slightly depressing that it is so surprising to see an organisation highlight substantial criticism they've received).

I'm Protestant but I attended an Opus Dei high school for boys. It's by far the best high school in the world. Those against funding needy Kenyans should understand that we're getting $5bn from China for a new 951km (591 mile) railway line, and for energy and conservation projects. Add the $10bn in annual tax revenues, new oil and gas finds, and then ask yourself how relevant you Kiva shylocks are.

I had no idea Kenya was such an affluent nation. I'm very sorry I can't donate on the order of billions. Perhaps you'd like to use some of the money you're receiving to make loans to other countries not receiving Chinese investment? In any case, thank you highlighting to me that donations to persons in Kenya are not needed. My donations were distributed automatically and evenly by Kiva, so I shall have to alter the preferences to send everywhere else in stead. - David G Incidentally, I'm not sure why you're referring to me as jewish. It may well be a local idiom I'm not getting.

A shylock is a usurer, a person who lends money at excessive rates of interest. It does not seem to apply accurately to Kiva lenders. To be clear: the derivation is from Shylock, a fictional Jewish character in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, but the use of the term is about lending and not about ethnicity/religion.

We don't want funding from homosexuals or homosexual sympathisers.

Short and brief from me. I can honestly say I don't think I have ever felt so insulted by a response in all my life. I don't believe it be intentional, but I need you to know Mr Flannery that it was like a dagger to the pit of my stomach and many others like me. Tony and Anders (and others) have it spot on. I urge you to read, truly understand and acknowledge that they speak with depth and clarity whereas you have merely spoken with light veneer. I also hope those with the eyes and ears to see through the veil of platitudes will continue to push this continued criticism far and wide into the media, not with a desire to damage KIVA but to help you see the damage you are doing, not just by insulting nearly every LGBT person in the world but by vicariously supporting inequality of ALL kinds in places like Strathmore. Where is your challenge to them? I see none. I don't want to leave because I want to see you pull yourself from your current polluted state. I'd like to see you lose your toxic connection and I'd like, if possible, to see you work actively with organisations like GALK. If you can do it with Strathmore, you can do it with them - no excuses. My patience is wearing thin, even if my compassion towards helping those in need remains strong.

Strathmore should ask the Chinese government to sponsor poor kids. They're funding and building a 951km (591 mile) railway line, plus energy and wildlife conservation projects. The total cost will be $5 billion. They have $3.341 trillion in foreign exchange reserves that must be invested abroad.

I respect and support Kiva’s decision. There are loans for every taste, color and size. Not at all have I felt Kiva’s values change because they are providing loans for students to a school that is affiliated with Opus Dei. In many countries the universities with the best curriculum and job opportunities are catholic. It does not mean all the students will be “converted”. But it means they will have a good opportunity to succeed in life. I regret that there are lenders leaving Kiva because of this, and not being able to separate core values. But that is also the beauty of Kiva, you can connect or not, leave whenever you feel like. You are also free to do propaganda against Kiva, but really what are you accomplishing with that? Less people receiving help? Going against what made you sign up for Kiva in the first place? … just food for thought…

I didn't sign up for Kiva to support Catholic universities. The Catholic Church is fabulously wealthy and spends a lot of money settling with people abused as children. They should fund scholarship loans for Strathmore and leave Kiva to help people buy cows and fix their roofs. I signed up to help people with immediate needs that can be filled by loans of less than $10,000, usually less than $1000.00 I signed up to help entrepreneurs, women, children, families, agricultural development etc. After my current loans expire, I will probably leave Kiva. There are other programs out there that are more in line with my values. No propaganda, just my choice. As far as the location of the Kenya field office having nothing whatsoever to do with the Strathmore program. Yeah, right, uh-huh, whatever. I'm 61yo, a college grad and a military veteran and not born yesterday. I call B.S. on this coincidence.

Sheryl, Please do read the article again. Matt said that Strathmore is different from the Catholic Church and is owned by an NGO. More over the loans are to poor students not to the university. The university does not get any benefit, when they could have admitted other wealthy students. Though you may have some reservations about the Catholic Church, we are more interested in helping bright, intelligent, poor students, regardless of faith and sexual orientation.

Matt Flannery, Another member of Kiva's GLBT Team did some research. He and I were both trying to find out the source of your affection for Strathmore. He forwarded me information that discloses your CEO position in "Puddle," a company started by Kiva's Skylar Woodward. One of the major investors in Puddle is Laurent Drion who has made extensive financial investment in Kiva loans at Strathmore. My question to you is this: Do you and Woodward and Drion see the Kiva/Strathmore partnership as beneficial to your business plans? Do you see any possible conflict of interests in this? Has Mr. Drion extended to Kiva advice, assistance, support of any kind in setting up, growing, perfecting the Kiva platform for loan/investment/repayment management? Has personal financial gain or or a sense of obligation to these professional relationships outweighed altruism in your affection for Strathmore/Opus Dei? I wanted to ask you these things directly rather then broadside you with them elsewhere. I want very much to feel good about Kiva again. That can happen when the partnership with Strathmore/Opus Dei is severed. Thanks for your attention.

correction: Matt Flannery is on the board of Skylar Woodward's company "Puddles". Woodward is CEO.

and another question, Matt Flannery, are you in any way whatsoever associated with Christian Descoups who had been the gen Secretary of the Luxembourg Exchange and is now general Secretary to the Archbishop of Luxembourg. Perhaps you are connected via Laurent Droin? Descoups is a member of Opus Dei and marched against marriage equality in Paris. Is he part of the reason for your affection for Strathmore/Opus Dei? Just asking the questions here.

Though I''m not gay or anything except privileged and trying to do some good through Kiva i,.e. I have NO agenda except humanitarianism. I am a member of the A+ team and very enthusiastic and lent to "Lillian." Proud of it - still am. But, in protest, I'm still refusing to donate too Kiva, as I really don't think, your response puts me at ease w/the manner in which you martial your 'resources.' I'm certainly not interested in withdrawing money from my account or even not putting new money in. It's too good a platform for a lazy sod like me to 'spread' my modest 'wealth' around the world! I think I 'understand' the lousy choices you were facing, and made what you thought was a defensible 'association' w/Strathmore. You realize now that it was a bad one, and that, take courage. So I actually admire you for responding, albeit tardily, to all the concerns. Enough said about that. But this disagreement goes beyond that. To my mind it started when you 'improved' the website (for whom and for what reason), and sent Brandon to 'put out the fire.' I'm sure he's a fine person, but those replys did nothing to assuage mine and others on the team - quite the contrary, While semi-explanatory' they were 'justifications' along w/some warnings that more 'improvement's' were coming. I'm sorry, but that's just a 'get out of our way, we know what we're doing, here' attitude that doesn't inspire confidence. Next came the Strathmore partnership w/all the complexities, some of which you addressed in your response - fair enough. But we didn't hear much, though we thought we might get some attention. It did, and if your right, Kiva will be better for it. But there are still concerns - don't ask me, others, like Tony Adams, supra, detail them better that I ever could. You need to keep listening. But it's not 'proven' yet, and may never be - or I may say what the hell - it's better than noting? But I'm not sure - so I'll wait (how long, I don't know - when the non-existent spirit moves me).. In the meantime, unless you bar me lending on Kiva, I will continue to exploit your resources at will w/o feeling any compunction from anywhere to assist you the Kiva 'empire' w/a donation that could partially fund another loan to another who 'really needs it.' And I hope that tiny gnat buzzing in your ear keeps Kiva listienng. Best wishes, good luck, and Peace. Eldon.

One other item I just found out that is still more disturbing, in light of the size of the loans for full ride at Strathmore is that Strathmore does not publish their fees on their website like the other universities in Kenya that I randomly searched. More secrecy does not help the situation here.

I find it remarkable that Matt's letter completely ignores the issue of just how big and numerous these Strathmore loans were, and how absolutely devastating they were to the ecology of the Kiva loan landscape. All of the money that went to fund those loans is now in a black hole and tied up for the next DECADE. How many times could those dollars have been turned over, reloaned again and again and helped countless entrepreneurs, small farmers, etc. etc. etc.? Isn't that what Kiva is (was) all about? I agree with comments above--I did not join Kiva to give an interest free loan to the Catholic Church.

I hope Kiva is taking ownership of the residual effects of its relationship with Strathmore and the deluge of U.S. loans. You've acknowledged the huge number of loans that have expired because of excessive pimping of the Strathmore loans and burying us in 60+ U.S. loans. Here it is, several weeks later, and there are more than 220 red boxed loans and more than 2600 active loans. I had funds for an expired loan I supported returned to me just a few hours ago. Kiva, through its mismanagement of the Strathmore and U.S. loans, owns that shame. I want to make sure you understand that and take ownership of it. Kiva's mismanagement on this front has had a horrific impact on the MFIs who now bear all the risk for these expiring loans all on their own. All because Kiva's relationship with Strathmore is more important than the traditional microlending model and the people it helps $500 at a time rather than $15,000 at a time.

Yes, the money is locked for a while, but what lasting impact does $800 to fix a roof have? While worthwhile, I'll take a $10,000 loan to help a brilliant student go to college anyday. sure the money is tied up for a while, but when he graduates, he or she will be able to earn income that can help his/her entire family for the rest of his/her life! The impact on those dollars far surpasses other loans' impact. I'm stunned and embarassed that so many people are hating on Kiva for this....

My worry (and despite repeated requests Kiva has not addressed this issue) is that once the student graduates they will be forced to emigrate in order to earn an income that will allow them to pay back the Strathmore loan. I have yet to see any figures on the number of graduates that seek employment outside of Kenya. If these loans are contributing to Kenya's best and brightest ending up employed in Germany or Singapore, well, I think that fact should be out there for discussion at the very least.

+1. Well said.

I hope Kiva is taking ownership of the residual effects of its relationship with Strathmore and the deluge of U.S. loans. You've acknowledged the huge number of loans that have expired because of excessive pimping of the Strathmore loans and burying us in 60+ U.S. loans. Here it is, several weeks later, and there are more than 220 red boxed loans and more than 2600 active loans. I had funds for an expired loan I supported returned to me just a few hours ago. Kiva, through its mismanagement of the Strathmore and U.S. loans, owns that shame. I want to make sure you understand that and take ownership of it. Kiva's mismanagement on this front has had a horrific impact on the MFIs who now bear all the risk for these expiring loans all on their own. All because Kiva's relationship with Strathmore is more important than the traditional microlending model and the people it helps $500 at a time rather than $15,000 at a time.

I am sorry that Matt's letter did not make everyone and so is life. You please most, you upset a few. Please do not I would like highlight that the goal of this loans is to change the lives of many students who Matt and KIVA team do not know in person - that is being a Hero. What KIVA and Strathmore are doing is for the students who have not been mentioned in lender concerns. I am a lender on KIVA and I know through the journals that the students are very happy. They are huge loans but also this students would be nothing without the loans. The first thing that happens to them when they receive the loans is that the light of Hope is turned on; they are happy to be trusted. They made to feel human and their ambitions are charged up. There is no doubt that return on investment has began when the student goes to class and passes their exams. Well done KIVA and lenders who believe in helping the African child to amke the world one.

Bottom line is KIVA lenders provide an MFI with the capital they need to make loans to people in need. This is because most MFI don't have the kind of capital they need due to being not for profit organisations. In this case the MFI is Opus Dei, one of the richest multi nationals going. It is not about whether Lillian gets a chance at a better future (I absolutely think she deserves it), it's more about why an "MFI"that is floating in money doesn't fund the loans themselves, leaving the KIVA lenders' money available to fund the hundreds of loans that expire every month. SOmething very fishy about why KIVA is so insistant on maintaining this relationship at the expense of so many others.

As a devout Catholic, I avoid anything that promotes the sinful LGBT life, so I always research prior to lending/supporting groups. If you cannot take the time to read, then don't complain that you put $ into something you do not support. It is NOT "hate speech" it's the Word of God, the Bible teachings, the Gospel. It's God's laws not human laws that Christians live by. We love God 1st & live by His Commandments. The secular world of self, me, me, me wants to get rid of God , and there by all sin. I'm thankful for Strathmore & Opus Dei and I pray they have the strength to speak the truth of God!

Kiva, I hope you can see from the above comment what the Strathmore relationship is enabling. Opus Dei is no different than the Taliban in the desire to impose what they see as God's laws on everyone on the planet.

To Matt Flannery and Kiva, A direct quote from one of the commenters: "As a devout Catholic, I avoid anything that promotes the sinful LGBT life, so I always research prior to lending/supporting groups. If you cannot take the time to read, then don't complain that you put $ into something you do not support. It is NOT "hate speech" it's the Word of God, the Bible teachings, the Gospel. It's God's laws not human laws that Christians live by. We love God 1st & live by His Commandments. The secular world of self, me, me, me wants to get rid of God , and there by all sin. I'm thankful for Strathmore & Opus Dei and I pray they have the strength to speak the truth of God!" [Permalink Submitted by Leslie on Fri, 08/30/2013] Matt, Opus Dei is secretive whenever they have to be, and open whenever their leaders think the field is clear. You are ignorant of the many ways that anti-gay bigotry radiates through a religious hierarchy. In the case of Opus Dei, the documentation is clear: they are not just a small sect of flat earth fanatics, but belong to the strong and well funded right wing of the Catholic Church. Opus Dei has historical links to far right regimes and dictators. Some of my early years were spent in South America, and I am well aware of the workings of Opus Dei in Chile and other countries. Even the present "social gospel" Pope Francis explicitly claims that marriage is an exclusive club for straight folks. Nor has this pope done anything to rein in or publicly criticize Opus Dei. We don't need lessons in "realism" from Matt Flannery. Kiva does some work well, and other work very poorly. Kiva's institutional affiliation with Opus Dei, the founding organization behind Strathmore University, is only one reason I will be donating my money elsewhere. But it happens to be one reason Matt Flannery has just shrugged off. Stop, please, with the claims of community and transparency. If Kiva is the community and the community is Kiva, then paid messengers would not be sent to the LGBT team as ambassadors who communicate only from the top down. The slogan is a fiction. That's why so many of the GLBT team members are withdrawing funds, so we can continue doing some good elsewhere. True, some members of the GLBT team are staying on, and some new members are only just learning of the controversy. On an issue of both fact and principle, a mere head count one way or the other might be interesting but also settles nothing. Finally, it is nonsense for anyone to claim that the Catholic Church is being singled out for criticism. We have been careful, in fact, to distinguish between the more enlightened branch of the Catholic Church, and the openly retrograde factions such as Opus Dei. Furthermore, the long lasting effects of colonialism in the past (including remnants of reactionary colonial law) are one reason that the far right of the evangelical Protestant movement has made common cause with anti-gay politicians in some African countries. Crusading anti-gay bigots from the United States are indeed joining forces with religious reactionaries round the globe. I made 100 Kiva loans in good faith. Kiva betrayed my trust, and has done nothing to earn it back. I'll be collecting my funds over time, and will decide much more carefully where my donations go in the future. Scott Tucker

Matt, Thanks for taking the time to attempt an explanation. I agree with yours and Kiva's agenda. While I don't support anti-LBGT views, anti-women's rights, or indoctrination practices, I also understand that in terribly poor countries where education rates are really low, small-minded views are going to be well-represented. Heck, the United States still displays considerable ignorance when it comes to basic HUMAN rights when you consider minority groups, but especially towards the LGBT community and a little less recently, blacks. And much of this discrimination is directly related to the prevalent religion in the United States. All you need to do is read comments like the ones Leslie posted above to see how little the US population is educated relative to poor countries like Kenya. They preach Christian love and caring out one side and preach hate, exclusion, and even murder because of people who don't fit into their little small-minded understanding of the world around them. So again, while I don't agree with the values Strathmore publicly displays, I believe Kiva has done their due-diligence that should reassure its lenders of its true intentions: to provide "...safe, affordable access to capital to those in need helps people create better lives for themselves and their families." And if that has to come at the cost of a Catholic school but that is fostering open-minded and critical thinking, then thank-you Kiva for allowing your lenders the opportunity to provide Kenyans higher education.

I regret not having researched Strathmore more thoroughly, before lending 100s of $ to undoubtedly deserving students. I hope the students will learn that their loans were supported by gay, free thinking folk despised by Opus Dei. Hurray for liberty.

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Matt began developing Kiva in late 2004 as a side-project while working as a computer programmer at TiVo, Inc. In December 2005 Matt left his job to devote himself to Kiva full-time. As CEO, Matt led Kiva's growth from a pilot project to an established online service with partnerships across the globe and hundreds of millions in dollars loaned to low income entrepreneurs. Matt was a Skoll Awardee and Ashoka Fellow and was selected to FORTUNE magazine's "Top 40 under 40" list in 2009.  In 2011, Matt was chosen for the The Economist “No Boundaries” Innovation Award.   He graduated with a BS in Symbolic Systems and a Masters in Philosophy from Stanford University.

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