Many poor people in developing countries can use small loans to escape poverty, but commercial banks won't offer them due their lack of profitability. Microfinance institutions (MFIs) in many countries do provide these small loans; they charge far less interest than the other option, loan sharks. Kiva is a San Francisco startup that partners with MFIs and gives Americans the ability to view individual entrepreneur profiles and lend money through the website. They've processed $4 million in loans from 40k lenders with a 100% repayment
rate so far.

Kiva (
At a Glance Kiva turbopowers microfinance institutions (MFIs) by providing them with free capital from US lenders, who decide to lend money through Kiva's website to individual entrepreneurs based on profiles provided by the MFI.
Sustainability Kiva is funded partly through optional lender donations (while Kiva does not take a cut of loans, they do ask for donations during the lending process) and partly through foundation grants and corporate support. They hope to be "self-sufficient" by 2008.
Innovation There are several other person-to-person lending sites, but Kiva stands alone in its transparency, massive scalability, and technology-centered approach.
Social Impact Kiva generated US$1 million in capital from individual US lenders for developing-world microloans in 2006, and through the first four months of 2007 are on track to exceed $12 million in 2007 distributed through its partner MFIs.

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