Kiva, San Francisco
Rishi Lahoti on April 9, 2019 in Uncategorized
Quite often, we hear about a small business or an entrepreneur who is working hard to accomplish what they set out to do but have inadequate access to funding. More often than not, this problems spells an inevitable collapse of their cause. Kiva, with a mission “to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty,” is trying to solve this in a creative way.
The nonprofit, based in San Francisco, which operates in 82 countries, is redefining the microfinancing game. While other sites like Go Fund Me and Kickstarter have garnered more attention in the crowdfunding space, Kiva is fundamentally unique. The process is as follows: A low-income individual/entrepreneur (the borrower) applies for a loan for a specific purpose (i.e. payment of education, surgery, buying materials/goods for their business, etc.) which is then approved by Kiva. Next, the amount of the loan is posted on Kiva’s site and is paid by loan amounts of $25 or more by Kiva users. Finally, after pre-determined repayment dates, the loan is paid back to the lender who can then choose to loan that money to another project or withdraw it. The loans are repaid at zero interest to Kiva users, which is where the inner drive of the users to do good shows.
Kiva is different from donations in that it utilizes microlending, wherein one loans money to a low-income individual or group with the expectation of repayment. Its business model of helping others while getting back what you invested is becoming increasingly popular with Forbes claiming Kiva is raising about $1 million every three days.
In addition to winning a multitude of awards from WSJ, The Economist, and TIME, Former President Bill Clinton called it ‘amazing’ and said it ‘made you feel like you knew the people’ you were lending to. Concerns of borrowers defaulting on the loans may be a valid concern, but Kiva boasts an impressive 96.8% repayment rate. Even more interesting is that unlike its competitors, which take a cut out of your donations, Kiva claims to funnel 100% of funds to the field. It covers its management and fundraising expenses through separate donations it asks for on its site. Finally, it has even been awarded Charity Navigator's highest award rating to dispel any remaining doubts of lending. Kiva also allows one to get the most of their lending experience by allowing the user to decide where to fund projects in the world and to which category (i.e. education, health, women, conflict zones, etc.). There are over 80 countries and 14 categories to choose from!
Ask Sid Muralidhar, a first-year college student at Virginia Tech, who, in his first week on Kiva, made twelve different loans. He explains, “I discovered Kiva just recently and have loved my experience thus far. I am very passionate about doing charity and helping those in need, but as a student, I cannot help as much as I would want to, especially financially. Kiva is a happy-medium in that rather than making a one-time donation, I am making loans to low-income individuals and entrepreneurs around the world that may be dispersed multiple times over. ” His next statement resonates with the many who love the idea of Kiva: “I found this to be a worthwhile expenditure - rather than having my money sitting in my bank account earning very low rates of return, my money is going towards helping out people who need it, from a DJ in El Salvador to a hair stylist in Uganda.” And while, as a Finance student, he understands that he’s not getting monetary return on his ‘investment,’ knowing he made an impact on someone’s life who needed it, he says, “that is the best return I could ask for!”
You can do your part today by visiting https://www.kiva.org and making your first donation. You can also support them by visiting them on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Kiva or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kiva/. Check them out and spread the word!