Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Story of Kiva.org

You may have heard of micro-credit or micro-lending agencies. They've received tons of press and even garnered a Nobel Prize. The business model is simple – lend small amounts of capital to organizations in developing countries. Empower marginalized communities, women, villages, and the other stakeholders that make up the lifeblood of these countries to grow their business and collectively improve the standard of living. agencies. They’ve received

You also may have heard of the Meatball Sunday. The thesis that describes the tendency for traditional companies to take the strategies that worked in a pre-internet/globally connected consumer landscape and combine them with the new media and the latest technology fads- thus resulting in a disgusting concoction of communication that fails the brand and further alienates the consumer base. The lesson being that the globally connected consumer has changed the strategic landscape, and in many cases existing companies either need to reinvent the way they view their consumers or make room for new companies who ‘get it’ to take over the ill-served market.

This brings me to the story of Kiva.org. The organization that has taken the lessons learned from micro-credit organizations and has been built to serve this new consumer landscape. It provides the tools for people around the world to connect to businesses in developing countries. It provides the mechanism for these people to build new relationships and help build new economies.

The fundamentals of Kiva.org are simple: It isn’t a charity. It doesn’t provide gifts to small business. It’s a lending system that allow anyone to lend as little as $25 to the business of their choice.

Here’s how it works*:

1. You go to the Kiva site and choose an entrepreneur who has posted and been screened for a need. Example: A small fish selling business in Mozambique.
2. You make a loan for as little as $25 through Paypal or a credit card. This may assist that fish selling business to buy more product and provide a necessary service to a community.
3. Receive a journal so you can keep track of how your entrepreneur is doing.
4. Withdraw or re-loan the proceeds from your original loan.

The amazing thing about this program which now raises millions of dollars a month for poor entrepreneurs is the loan payback is at about 99%. If lending isn’t your thing, Kiva.org will connect you to several volunteer opportunities as well.

The success with Kiva.org has been all about knowing the audience, knowing how to connect like-minded individuals and building an authentic sense of ownership for the community it serves.

*Paraphrased from this great article by John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing. He delivers a dose of daily insight and always delivers something to think about.