Kiva micro lending site uses power of personal stories and Web 2.0

October 30, 2007

A couple of posts ago, I talked about how non-profits can engage the media, and in turn supporters, by having clients tell their own stories. Yesterday, while listening to an archived podcast of CBC Radio’s Search Engine, I heard about an organization called Kiva. It’s a great example of how the power of the personal story, along with emerging uses of the Web (aka Web 2.0) is changing the face of philanthropy, and in this case, international foreign aid.

In a nutshell, Kiva links entrepreneurs in need of micro loans (e.g. $50-$300) with lenders. The borrowers are from all over the world in developing countries. Amazingly, full repayment of the loans occurs over 99% of the time.

What makes Kiva unique is that all of the borrowers post their pictures and a profile of their business plan on the site. Lenders can browse through the profiles and select the person they want to support. Lenders can even get email journal updates from the businesses they sponsored.

The program is a huge success and speaks to the power of interactive, personal websites that engage directly with visitors. Kiva has been getting loads of media attention and high profile endorsements from the likes of Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey.

Check out the promotional video below for a quick overview of how the program works.

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