Kiva CEO Jessica Jackley on how you can help change lives – $25 at a time.
Jessica Jackley believes in different. Kiva, a micro lending site that has funded close to a billion dollars in 0% interest loans for entrepreneurs across the world, shouldn’t work when measured in conventional terms.
“People always ask me about Kiva charging a small percentage of interest, or about accepting funding from CSR departments. This isn’t what we do. The connection – the relationship between lenders and borrowers – is what makes us different” said Jackley in her opening speech on Friday morning.
“The traditional narrative of well intentioned, non-profit NGOs is made up of people less fortunate than ourselves who live unhappy lives in underprivileged parts of the world, unable able to help themselves. Charity can turn into an emotionless transaction when throwing change in a donation tin gives you a pass to go on with your day,” continued Jackley.
The reality is that the world is full of happy, inspired and talented individuals who don’t have access to financial resources that can break the cycle of poverty. “A common story is someone who wakes up with nothing, takes a loan from a local money lender who charges insane interest rates, purchases materials to weave baskets, jewellery or whatever, sells their products, then hands all their profits straight back to lender.”
Kiva helps break the cycle. By offering 0% interest loans typically totalling a few hundred or thousand dollars, borrowers are able to purchase tools, livestock, clean energy and more. These micro investments free local entrepreneurs from the cycle of poverty, and give financial security to individuals, families and communities.
“Lenders also benefit by forming a relationship with the borrowers – you get to connect with the people and businesses you are helping. Currently, over 97% of all loans are repaid, meaning your same $25 can be re-lent and can help many more people.”
With loans totalling close to a billion dollars, the Kiva community is now seeing its first lenders who started out as borrowers. From borrowers to lenders, to Jackley herself, all this has been made possible by people who are not afraid to pursue opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.
“There are those who dig to bury, and those who dig to build great things” concludes Jackley. “Why do some people dig to build? Because they have chosen to believe their dream is possible.”