I have been fascinated with Kiva for quite some time. It’s a quite an audacious idea – it started as a platform for ordinary citizens in the US to extend loans to micro-entrepreneurs across the developing world. Imagine the effort involved in finding suitable entrepreneurs to finance across the developing world, developing a payment mechanism to transfer funds to them, creating systems to avoid fraud, running a marketing campaign to find development oriented lenders, applying the legal finesse to deal with financial regulation…much respect to the Kiva team.
So the other day I tried to see if I, based in South Africa, could support an entrepreneur from another African country using this platform. The process was mind-blowingly simple. It took about ten minutes for me to sign on to the system and to make a US$25 loan to a trader in South Sudan. Being able to do something like this is a reminder that we are living through one hell of a revolution – this type of global connectivity has never existed before. The opportunities to reach out and effect change in the world are immense.
The micro-entrepreneur in question required a US$450 loan and it became fully funded on the day I made my contribution. The total amount will be used to fund clothing inventory, which the lady will then on-sell in her business. The term is seven months and Kiva’s field partner in South Sudan, BRAC, will collect repayments from the entrepreneur and report on progress on the Kiva site. I will post some updates on how the loan is doing.