Kiva Launches Online Microfinance in the United States
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, June 10, 2009 — Kiva.org -- the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website -- has launched a pilot expansion in the United States, allowing individuals anywhere to make small loans to U.S. entrepreneurs through the Kiva.org website.
Kiva.org brings its global, online micro-lending platform to the United States at a financial tipping-point for many small businesses. Small businesses represent more than 87 percent of all businesses in the United States, and, on average, these microenterprises are responsible for 900,000 new jobs created per year.(1) Despite these statistics, more than 10 million business owners faced difficulty obtaining business capital -- even before the credit crisis and economic slowdown.
Beginning today on Kiva.org, through partnerships with local microfinance institutions ACCION USA and Opportunity Fund, individuals will be able to browse and lend to small businesses across the United States. Through Kiva's website (www.kiva.org), a loan of $25 can be made to support an entrepreneur, and the specific progress of the loan can be tracked, from initial funding to repayment. Upon receiving repayment, lenders can withdraw their funds or relend to another entrepreneur, thereby continuing the lending cycle.
"Most people think of microfinance as something that helps people in the developing world alone, but the impact of microfinance can be felt in any community that supports creative, industrious entrepreneurs," said Premal Shah, President of Kiva.org. "Kiva's micro-loan model is extremely relevant to low-to-moderate income, U.S. based entrepreneurs, especially given the current economic conditions which makes access to credit a very real problem. The Internet could become a significant source of community driven, low-cost capital for the everyday small business owner in the U.S., and Kiva.org is excited to expand its platform to the U.S. at a time when the need for such capital is greatest."
Kiva's Roots in Microfinance
Founded as a means to combine the impact of microfinance with the utility of technology, Kiva.org has risen as a leader in global microfinance over the past 3 1/2 years. In May alone, Kiva.org users loaned $4.6 million to entrepreneurs, a 51 percent year-over-year increase and a record month for Kiva.org. Over $75 million has been loaned through Kiva.org to support more than 180,000 individuals from 44 developing countries.