Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Kiva Introduces Domestic Initiative

During the last few years, I have watched in fascination as innovative Kiva, the first peer-to-peer international micro lending organization has blossomed into a social networking phenomenon. Three years ago, I even doodled with a business plan that would create a peer-to-peer lending site for both domestic and international faith ventures. But the obstacles seemed too great when you focus on such a specific niche. And besides Kiva was already doing such a great job helping faith organizations even though it was a secular nonprofit.

Last week, I was excited to hear that Kiva had introduced a domestic initiative. You can now visit www.Kiva.org and view domestic entrepreneurs from the Opportunity Fund and Accion. Like with the international lending program, interested investors build a portfolio from a selection of active entrepreneurs needing financial support. Funds are invested in the businesses that the individual selects. When the entrepreneur repays the loan, the investor can reinvest in another business, donate the funds to Kiva or withdraw the funds. The investments are overseen by partner microenterprise organizations ensuring a high repayment rate.

Kiva shifts paradigms by putting the power of the internet to work on behalf of the poor. People aren’t investing with an organization. They invest in individuals. And now, the program is not just limited to international microenterprise with the inauguration of the domestic initiative.

Incidentally, the Kiva web site provides a great place to get ideas for your own faith venture. The day I visited, some of the aspiring entrepreneurs presented some very good ideas that would work wonderfully for individuals rebuilding lives from addiction, conviction or homelessness with the right support structure.

In today’s difficult economy, if you have some spare resources, it’s a great time to invest in the success of others through Kiva. And you’ll also help rebuild our economy through the power of entrepreneurship.

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