Today I used Kiva.org to loan $25.00 to Elizabeth, a beauty salon owner in Queens, New York who needs $6,000 to purchase new chairs, hair dryers, and other items for her salon. This is the fourth loan I've made to an entrepreneur using Kiva, but the first one to an entrepreneur in the United States.
Kiva facilitates regular people, like you and me, making micro-loans to entrepreneurs who aren't able to get a loan from the bank. In the past, Kiva only worked with entrepreneurs outside of the U.S., but today they extended their services to American entrepreneurs.
Check out Good Morning America's story today about Kiva, and their interview with its President, Premal Shah. Shah explains how to be considered for a loan, and how to be a lender.
So far, Kiva has a 98% repayment rate. Once the entrepreneur you've helped pays back your loan, you can either get your money back, or reinvest it in another entrepreneur.
I'm excited about this new service first, because I'm sure more American entrepreneurs than ever could use help getting their businesses started, and second, because it makes the program less one-sided--Americans helping people in the developing world--to people helping people, wherever they live. Someone in Kenya could loan to an entrepreneur in the States, and vice versa.
I'm also hopeful that Kiva will find some microfinance partners who work specifically with American Indian, Alaskan Native and Hawaiian Native entrepreneurs like I proposed in my March post, A Kiva.org for Native American Entrepreneurs?
Kiva.org works with microfinance institutions to help identify entrepreneurs, and to distribute loans to them. They are working with ACCION USA and the Opportunity Fund for the new U.S. program. If you know of any microfinance institutions that serve Native Americans in particular, let me know.
You can read more about the launch of Kiva's U.S. program on these blogs:
- Kiva's First US Loan on Kiva Stories from the Field
- Kiva in the US on the Kiva.org Blog
- Kiva Brings Microlending Home to U.S. Entrepreneurs in Need by Leena Rao on TechCrunch.
- Kiva Now Allows You to Invest in US Small Businesses by Steven Walling on ReadWriteWeb.
- Kiva Brings Loan Program to the US by Nathaniel Whittemore on Change.org.
- More Microlending Comes to the US by Leigh Graham on Change.org.
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