Hard work alone is not enough to overcome poverty. Without access to capital, would-be entrepreneurs cannot realize their ambitions.
The social entrepreneur: After seeing first hand in East Africa how a small loan could change the life of an entrepreneur in the developing world, Matt and Jessica Flannery founded Kiva.org in 2005 to enable individuals to make loans as small as $25 to enable the development of emerging businesses. Matt quit his job at Tivo to work full time as Kiva’s chief executive. Premal Shah, a product manager at PayPal who had experimented with posting small loan applications on eBay and other innovations in internet microfinance, joined Kiva as its president to help scale the idea. Kiva works with field partners (mostly microfinance institutions, but also schools, nongovernmental organizations, and others) to find borrowers, administer loans, and provide information and stories about the borrowers and their businesses for the Web platform. When lenders receive repayment, they can withdraw to a PayPal account, donate to Kiva to cover operating costs, or make more loans. In its first three years, up to the time of the Skoll Award, 148,000 lenders had used the Kiva platform to provide $25 million in loans, supporting 33,000 entrepreneurs in 40 developing countries.
“The vision, ultimately, is to create a global community of partners who will help to alleviate poverty through business, one person at a time.” – Premal Shah
Impact since joining the portfolio in 2008:
- As of February 2015, Kiva has 2 million users; 1.26 million of whom have made one or more loans.
- 5 million businesses have received loans.
- Kiva has field partners in 85 countries.
- The average loan is $417 and the repayment rate is over 98 percent.
- Kiva is piloting a mobile payment system that sends loans directly to the borrower rather than through an intermediary.
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