Kiva is an organization devoted to connecting people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty. The world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website empowers individuals to make direct loans to entrepreneurs in the developing world.
Microfinance involves the supply of loans, savings and other basic financial services to the poor, usually in developing countries. As it typically involves small amounts of money, the term helps to differentiate these services from those provided by formal banks.
A glance at the organization’s homepage, kiva.org, gives potential lenders a glimpse at the lives of those striving to keep their businesses successful and provide for themselves and their families. After searching through the database, one can choose which entrepreneur to support and do so securely through a PayPal account or credit card.
Although growing exponentially, Kiva is still too small of an organization to personally distribute all of the funds to entrepreneurs across the globe. Instead, Kiva passes them on to microfinance partners who are experts in choosing qualified entrepreneurs. These partners also offer training and other assistance to their clients to increase their chances of success.
As the entrepreneurs succeed and make money, they are able to repay their loans. When this happens, money is returned to the lenders through the Kiva site, at which point they can choose to lend it to someone else in need, donate directly to Kiva or withdraw their money from the system.
More than 80,000 loans have been made by nearly 425,000 Kiva lenders since the organization’s inception in November 2005. With a total value of loans over $61 million, Kiva has quickly become one of the most popular lending engines in the world. For more information on the organization or to make a loan to entrepreneurs in the developing world, visit kiva.org. iBi