Poverty, money, and love

What do you think of people in poverty? Maybe what Jessica Jackley once did: “they” need “our” help, in the form of a few coins in a jar. The co-founder of www.Kiva.org talks about how her attitude changed — and how her work with micro loans has brought new power to people who live on a few dollars a day. In this powerful TED talk, Jessica tells the fascinating story of what drove her to co-found Kiva.

Kiva.org is the world’s first personal micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. Founded in 2005, Kiva.org’s mission is to connect people, through lending, to alleviate poverty. In just over 5 years, over 477,000 people have loaned more than $150 million to 408,000 entrepreneurs in 53 countries.

In September 2010, Kiva announced a pilot of Student Microloans on Kiva.org. Anyone can lend as little as $25 to students in three countries around the world. Founded as a means to combine the impact of microfinance with the utility of technology, Kiva is in a unique position to help lenders make a personal difference — easily, quickly and effectively — first with small business microloans and now with student microloans.The pilot was born as a natural extension of Kiva’s mission to connect people, through lending, to alleviate poverty. Kiva Student Microloans give recipients the opportunity to gain new knowledge and skills through higher education or vocational training. As a result, these individuals will be better positioned to find jobs, support their families and grow their communities — and ultimately make a real difference in the relief of global poverty.

“In developing countries, access to funding for education doesn’t exist like it does in the United States,” said Premal Shah, president of Kiva.org. “Without being given the opportunity, students don’t have the chance to demonstrate fiscal responsibility. We believe the internet community is in a unique position to share the risk of student lending in the developing world and if these students repay their loans — as we believe they will — it could be the very impetus needed to make education accessible for everyone around the world.”

Kiva is working closely with its Field Partners in Bolivia, Lebanon, and Paraguay to create a loan offering tailored for the countries’ students. In some cases, Kiva is providing the additional reach needed to fund its current portfolio of student loans and, in another case, Kiva’s partner is creating their first ever student microloan offering.

As with other Kiva loans, the specific progress of the loan can be tracked from initial funding to repayment. Upon receiving repayment, lenders can withdraw their funds or re-lend to another student or entrepreneur, thereby continuing the lending cycle.

Broadening access to student loan funding is a huge global problem, and Kiva recognizes that its microlending approach is just one piece of the puzzle. As a result, Kiva is currently in discussions with other industry participants about ways to collaborate to address this challenge together.

“Climb for Leaders is proud that through its Ultimate Student Leadership Challenge, students can channel a portion of the funds they raise towards helping alleviate poverty through entrepreneur and student loans,” says Narmin K. Ismail, co-founder. “These funds allow other students at the school who are not participating in the leadership challenge to be involved in the initiative, and to help make a meaningful impact in alleviating poverty in a manner that is dignified and engaging for the beneficiaries,” she adds.


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