This isn’t just sending a cheque off to a large organization where you’re never quite sure who benefits from your donation. Instead Kiva allows lenders to browse profiles on the site, choose who they want to lend to, learn the story of the entrepreneur and about the business he or she is creating, and then decide how much to lend. Donations can be as little as $25 and the loan cycle is typically six months to a year when the loan is then repaid. The company creates a personal connection between lenders and entrepreneurs, allowing lenders to witness the impact of their loans through email journal updates. (Daily Grommet made a loan to grocer Tuhfa Rahmatova from Tajikistan, who wants to add more variety to her offerings—we can relate! See her progress here.
Kiva, the first micro-lending website, was founded by Matt and Jessica Flannery after the couple spent time in East Africa and recognized the impact small loans to local business owners could make. It’s innovation like this that just may help turn the economy around.