Kiva Launches Online Microfinance in the United States
The push for Kiva.org to expand into the United States was inspired by California's First Lady, Maria Shriver, during her visit to Kiva's San Francisco office in March 2008. As the staff of Kiva.org proudly showed her the enormous impact the website was having on entrepreneurs in the developing world, Shriver asked if Kiva's model could be replicated domestically to support low-to-moderate income entrepreneurs in the United States.
"The message of The Women's Conference is that we all have the power to be Architects of Change in our own lives and in the lives of others," said Shriver. "And this partnership with Kiva.org is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to team up as a community and empower women entrepreneurs here in California and across the United States to start and sustain a small business, become more financially independent, and ultimately fulfill her dreams. By pooling our resources, a loan as small as $25 can change a life. Thanks to Kiva.org, being an Architect of Change has never been easier."
Partnering to Make Microfinance a Reality in the United States
To facilitate micro-lending in the U.S., Kiva.org has partnered with ACCION USA, a microfinance institution lending in 48 states across the U.S., and Opportunity Fund, a community development financial institution based in San Jose, CA. Recent impact studies found that the business survival rate of ACCION USA's borrowers is 97%, while loan provided creates or retains 1.7 jobs. Additionally, 60% of borrowers report an increase in household income. Opportunity Fund loan recipient created or sustained an average of 2+ jobs, 70% of surveyed clients reported an increase in business revenues, and 65% reported an increase in household income. Opportunity Fund's borrowers have a business survival rate of 85% and a loan repayment rate of 90%.
"While microfinance has long been associated with the developing world, ACCION USA's work has proven that it is also an established tool in the United States," said Gina Harman, president and CEO of ACCION USA. "Microloans not only provide access to capital, but fuel business growth and job creation -- key factors in driving economic recovery in the U.S."