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Kiva, a micro-finance organization, makes small loans to individuals or groups in developing countries looking to build small businesses or fund other projects.

This type of financing allows the borrowers to potentially repay the lenders when a project has been successful, re-purposing the charity money to another group in need. Financiers believe that this type of lending supports economic and entrepreneurial growth unlike traditional charity.

By lending instead of giving, Kiva enables borrowers to engender societal change by providing them the start they need to create a profit. Seema Patel, a user of Kiva, shares what she has learned from the company: “Give a person a fish, you have fed her for today; teach her how to fish, you have fed her for a lifetime.” This effectively expresses the repayment feature Kiva employs.

Kiva has been the most successful organization in the micro-financing field. It works as an intermediary, posting ads from individuals or groups seeking loans and creating profiles that contain general personal information, a description of the loan needed, and a photo of the potential borrower.

Borrowers are rated on a scale of 1 to 5 stars based on their previous credit history with loans. 1 star means the borrower is potentially risky or newer and less likely to be funded, while 5 stars means the borrower is a safer investment.

Lenders are able to fund from $25 to $5,000 and the borrowers are only responsible for making their prescheduled payments once the loan has been fully funded. The average loan from Kiva based on their past 289,329 loans is approximately $694.

Most projects receive their funding within a day or less. Of all loans, 78 percent are funded within two days, and 68.17 percent are funded within the first day. There is no evidence to show that loans perceived as risky are funded slower than the loans perceived as safe. The popularity and success of Kiva allows for this fast funding rate.

Data show that lenders are more likely to fund projects that they believe will have a greater impact on alleviating poverty. Loans to men and to projects that request higher costs are often funded slower than loans to large groups of women.

This may be because lenders are looking to alleviate the poverty of groups or individuals who may be lacking a regular source of capital. In addition, loans that are financing education and health have the fastest rates of funding.

Although lenders fund loans with the knowledge that they might not be repaid, the default rate of repayment is only 0.7 percent. Loans to larger groups have higher repayment rates which make them more likely to be funded. The high repayment rate suggests that the loans are successful in spurring potential businesses and other projects.

Amanda Panella

Photo: Flickr

direct_loans
Big business ideas and economic enterprises are no longer limited to the corporate boardroom. The digitally connected world has provided entrepreneurs from all corners of the globe ways in which to make their concepts known; social media and increased mobile access have given tomorrow’s innovators a voice they lacked in the past. The main issue, however, is that those in developing countries still lack access to funding and capital, no matter how strong their idea.

That’s where Zidisha comes in. Zidisha is a nonprofit micro-lending service that allows potential borrowers to receive direct loans from an online community. The organization’s main goal is to promote economic development by cutting out lending middlemen and local banks that often charge supremely high-interest rates on loans.

The process is quite simple. Potential borrowers need only reliable online access, something that is only becoming more and more available. The borrowers then submit a profile describing themselves and their intended use of the loan. A one-time processing fee of around $12 is charged.

Zidisha is a very small company and merely provides a platform for users to interact directly. “We’ve built a decentralized marketplace that has no offices, no employees or loan officers in borrower countries,” says company founder Julia Kurnia. Zidisha lets borrowers receive funds via SMS straight from lenders at a zero percent interest rate.

Loans are typically small. Zidisha states that the average loan is $200 to $300. Loans have enabled entrepreneurs to buy computers for an Internet café and sewing machines for a village shop. Both have relatively low costs, but a significant impact. According to Wired Magazine, the computers that were funded by Zidisha loans have empowered many, as they have been used to teach office programs like Microsoft Word and Excel.

Zidisha’s purpose is clear in its name. The word means “grow” in Swahili. By charging no interest and only asking for the principal returned, Zidisha enables borrowers’ ideas, which would normally be denied by the typical financial institutions, to flourish.

Joe Kitaj

Sources: Wired, Zidisha, Venture Beat
Photo: Zidisha