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Kiva.org: Micro-loans with Mega impact

News + Events : Kiva.org: Micro-loans with Mega impact

11/04/2011

On Tuesday, October 25, Austin Choi spoke to students at the SF State Downtown Campus about the nonprofit Kiva.org and its work in the field of microfinance. Austin has over 10 years of experience in law, and serves as Kiva.org’s general counsel.

Microfinancing involves individuals, rather than institutions, making small loans to the poor in developing countries. The poor often lack collateral and a credit history, and may also be illiterate, resulting in their exclusion from traditional lending institutions.

Individuals can go to the kiva.org website and read the requests for small loans. Kiva.org processes the loans that an individual makes. With these microloans, the lendees have the necessary capital to jumpstart their own businesses and eventually get on the path of self-sufficiency. The loans made through Kiva.org are interest-free, and they report a 99 percent repayment rate.

Students in attendance at this talk were amazed at the concept that “I can make a difference in someone else’s life without a lot of money.”

Austin discussed some of the challenges Kiva.org faces, including its difficulty entering the microfinance markets in China, India, Argentina, and Brazil, due to strict banking policies in those countries governing how capital flows. Kiva.org also experienced controversy when it began offering microloans in developed countries like the U.S., and had to address lenders’ concerns about where the greatest need was.

Austin also talked about the future of microfinance for Kiva.org, and discussed their expansion into the areas of mobile phone plans, green energy, and educational loans.

To learn more, visit the Kiva.org website

Gator Givers

SF State has a lending team on Kiva.org, called Gator Givers. The team was formed by SF State MBA students with the mission of using entrepreneurship to alleviate world poverty, and has lent a cumulative total of nearly $50,000 to date.

Microfinance Telecast

If you are interested in microfinance, check out Net Impact's Facebook page. They are sponsoring a six-week long (Oct. 26 to Dec. 7) microfinance telecast from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.


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