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Zidisha Inc.

Rating: 4.13 stars   30 reviews 6,523

Address:

21900 Muirfield Cir. Apt. 302 Sterling VA 20164 USA

Mission:

Zidisha is the next generation of microfinance. It is the only peer-to-peer microfinance organization that allows lenders to make low-interest loans to borrowers directly, without any intermediaries. Launched in October 2009, Zidisha has since raised over $350,000 for over 600 small businesses in developing countries. Visit Zidisha.org for more information.

Results:

Loans raised: $352,006 USD Businesses financed: 602 Average lender interest: 3.08% Members Worldwide: 2040 Repayment rate: 97.49% (As of September 2012)

Target demographics:

Zidisha borrowers are located in low-income countries where small business loans are often unavailable, or carry prohibitively expensive interest rates and collateral requirements. Zidisha allows entrepreneurs who have built up successful credit records with local microfinance institutions to access progressively larger business expansion loans at interest rates they can afford, limited only by their own loan repayment performance.

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http://www.zidisha.org

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Reviews for Zidisha Inc.

Rating: 1 stars  

I started lending via Zidisha a couple of years ago. At first, I was content with the way the organization operated. As a former KIVA lender, I understood the risk of undertaking these loans and did not enter into them as a means to make money, but to help people. So, if some folks fell behind or life happened and they couldn't pay the entire balance back, I was fine with that. I rarely set the interest rate above zero on my loans as I was not interested in making life more difficult for people who needed help. All was fine for a while, then something happened with the way the borrowers were vetted or the way the community volunteers were selected (never did figure it out), but suddenly many of my borrowers either made one payment and disappeared, or never made a payment at all. Frankly, it felt and looked like con artists had slipped into the borrower mix and were taking on loans they had no intention of paying back. After repeatedly being stiffed, I gave up on micro-lending all together, stopped making new loans with Zidisha and moved on to other charities. I did, however, keep getting small payments from the few legitimate borrowers who were left.

After poking around on the Zidisha website one day, I realized that I needed to make sure to keep an eye on where my repayments were going, as the site rules had changed without notice and were preset to take any repayments and reinvest them without my knowledge. Since I felt that I could no longer trust that folks in legitimate need would get my repayments, I quickly reset that option. Now, I make sure I check into the site every month to manually transfer any new repayment funds out of Zidisha.

Today, I made my monthly check only to discover that they've made yet another change to the site, Now there is no way to see the status of your outstanding loans and/or the amount still due. They have now removed the "Your Loans" page that showed each loan you made, the balance due remaining, and other details. Now all you have access to is the "Your Impact" page that shows each borrower and the overall percentage they have repaid, but no details as to how much you loaned and/or how much of your loan is outstanding. The information is generic and pretty useless. I checked the site's Forum and found several entries from folks who were confused by this change as well. Zidisha's explanation is that they felt the "Your Loans" page made them look less like a philanthropic organization and more like lenders. This is, in my opinion, utter nonsense.

I don't care that some deserving folks couldn't make their payments—it’s a charity, for crying out loud. I care that Zidisha has a pattern of changing their policies and procedures without notice to take advantage of the very people who support their work. I care that the poor repayment rate caused by poor vetting, poor field management or whatever by Zidisha, is being obfuscated by tweaking the web-site records to keep lenders in the dark as to the success or failure of their contributions. This is not hurting me or other lenders. This is not making Zidisha look like some super hero philanthropic organization. This is hurting people who need help.

 
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Rating: 1 stars  

I signed up to Zidisha a few years ago as an alternative to Kiva. I liked the format and being able to lend without charging people high interest rates that's common in microfinance. I've since become very unhappy with my experience with Zidisha.

My first issue was with how the website was geared to relend any money you've been paid back. It is automatically set to relend your money in small increments. I found all the money I'd been repaid on my first few loans had been relent out into 15+ small $1 loans, before I realized it was set-up to do this.

My account was considered 'inactive' and stuck on the setting to automatically relend out any positive balance. Once I was able to reactivate my account (if I recall right, I had to lend out more money to do this), I found I could reset Zidisha to not relend my money out. But it put a short time frame on this period (a few months), after which, it'd start lending any positive balance back out in small amounts.

I have to sign in every few months to withdraw my balance via Paypal and renew this 'do not relend' period. This is quite frustrating.

Many of these small loans Zidisha made on my behalf haven't been paid back and seem to have been lent out to some not so reputable looking loan requests. I thought I'd have more autonomy to choose who my loans went to.

I've currently got around half of what I originally lent outstanding (I think - read below). It's coming in at a few dollars every month.

They used to show you how much you'd lent out to who on a "Your Loans' page. Now, that page is gone, and they've said they're now focusing on how Zidisha is a philanthropy and not a financial investment site.

I have no idea how many individual outstanding loans I currently have, or to whom. They've removed access to that information. Apparently, to Zidisha, philanthropy is mutually exclusive with transparency.

I never viewed Zidisha as an opportunity to make financial gains. I expected to take some losses, perhaps some very significant ones. What I didn't expect is how Zidisha takes control away from me as a lender and hides information on the money I have lent.

As a lender, I expect transparency and respect from the organizations I work with. I don't feel that Zidisha has provided that.

 
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Rating: 1 stars  

3 people found this review helpful

I can only echo the words about this being more a charity.....although perhaps not one helping the people you intended to.

A few years ago I read about p2p lending (as an investment) and then about microfinancing. I was intrigued by the idea and though sites such as zidisha were great.

I added a little to three sites : zidisha, kiva and lendwithcare. Out of all of them zidisha was my favourite because of the low fees (on both sides) and the fact your load went where it said - not into some big pot with faces/stories giving a false impression of direct allocation.

After trialling for a short while (not long enough) I added more to zidisha since there were less fees to get my GBP funds in and I could help who I chose.

I eventually noticed auto-lending - I set it up with a low amount and sorted by risk...I think it originally auto allocated a chunk of money. More recently I see the minimum amount auto lent has increased which seems designed to drain any balance you may have. The only way I knew to prevent this "feature" was to make a small loan every so often to reset the countdown clock.

So - why did I want a balance rather then relend? Simple - a great number of loans seemed fraudulent. I know people can become ill and situations change - I know who & why I aimed to help in the first place.....but there were just too many. With the auto lending and probably with me getting carried away in the beginning I have seen a 42% loss from the initial. I have taken out $1200 and have about $200 in zidisha. Frankly I feel this money can be better utilised on another site. lendwithcare lost just 4.04% and kiva 11.48%

 
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Rating: 3 stars  

4 people found this review helpful

This is a non-profit, in fact more a charity, and it is crucial to keep that in mind if lending through this platform. One should not expect to retain the capital placed into the system. I have seen about 30% of the money I have put in, over the past two years, disappear - sometimes with an explanation from the borrower or zidisha volunteers, but often without any reasons provided. I have also encountered many enthusiastic, hard working borrowers who seem to make excellent use of the loans they receive. It's a mixed bag - with Zidisha, you have to expect bad lending experiences with the good.

 
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Rating: 1 stars  

8 people found this review helpful

I was hopeful about the prospects of this funding platform, but the losses to the lender are too great. Out of $825 I have uploaded over several years, I only hope to get back about 55% or less of the principal. Also there are some unscrupulous practices at Zidisha occurring now where they switch your account to "auto-lending" thereby draining your account every 24 hours according to some default preferences that I had never authorized. I was never notified of a change in their terms and this new feature was activated without my knowledge and money started leaving my account. The founder refuses to correct the situation and removes posts that are contrary to her "terms" on the member forum pages so that no one else can be warned about these settings. I can't recommend this Nonprofit and encourage you to stay away.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

This organization needs better customer service and responsiveness to the lender's concerns. Also better screening of the clients who receive the funding is essential.

Was your donation impactful?

Unlikely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

No

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

 
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I'm Julia Kurnia, the director of Zidisha, and would like to add our perspective on this review. In December last year, we modified our website to relend unused repayments that had been credited to the accounts of inactive lenders. All lenders were sent an email notification of the change, and it is also described in our terms of use, FAQ, and lending account pages. We send an email notification to inactive lenders ten days before relending funds on their behalf. Finally, we offer all lenders the option to undo loans made on their behalf if they desire to withdraw or lend the funds themselves. We do reserve the right to remove posts in our forum, but only do so when they violate our published forum guidelines.

Rating: 1 stars  

9 people found this review helpful

Zidisha is a great concept, but for these few years it's been in business it's still bad execution.

First, there are still a lot of crooks in the community. A lot of borrowers planning to take the loan and then walk away. This problem has been improved over the past few years, and we know we can never 100% eliminate these crooks. So this is fine.

However, the biggest problem is, as the lender, you cannot, and I mean CANNOT, make any accusation on borrowers, even if it's crystal clear the borrower cheated. I had borrowers who just took the money, and then the next day disappeared with $0 repaid, and after a few weeks the loan defaulted. Even in this situation if you accuse the borrower, according to Zidisha you are making "unproven accusation that hurts the borrower and community", and the worst case is they will close your account right away (happened to me).

Lender-borrower relationship is suppose to be equal and win-win relationships. Unfortunately Zidisha DOES NOT understand this; they side with the borrowers and treat lenders as second-class citizens. If you think you will be respected for being charitable by taking ALL the financial risks, and charging an absurdly low interest rate in order to help borrower, THINK AGAIN. Zidisha does NOT respect lenders. For you, you filthy lenders live in developed world and should be happy. It is your honor to get conned by people from developing nations and DON'T YOU DARE VOICE UP AND POINT OUT THE FACTS.

 
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I'm Julia Kurnia, the director of Zidisha, and would like to comment on this review. We closed the account of this lender (and refunded all the payments he had made to our organization) because he posted unproven accusations of theft on the public profile pages of borrowers who had fallen behind on their payments. This violates our terms of use because such accusations can permanently damage the reputations of borrowers, who often fall behind on payments not because of dishonesty but because of hardship or illness.

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Role: General Member of the Public
Rating: 5 stars  

Microfinance is one of the most useful ways in which people in the developed world can help those in developing countries. Of all of the microfinance organizations that I know, Zidisha is unique. It directly links lenders like me, to borrowers in Kenya, Ghana, and other countries. I can lend as much or as little as I like, I can request reasonable interest if I want, and I can (and do) directly communicate with the borrowers. I have several borrowers to whom I have made 2 or 3 or 4 loans over the years, as I have seen their businesses grow, seen them offer employment to others, seen them working hard to succeed. The personal link, and the fact that there is no middleman, makes Zidisha terrific.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

find more people to make loans!

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

 
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1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

3 people found this review helpful

Zidisha is a powerful and effective business model. The amount of interaction between lender and borrower is gratifying, and allows a real human face to be put on a microcredit loan. The fact that borrowing rates are very low (in comparison to other microcredit sites) means that more profit is made by the borrower, loans are paid back more quickly, and there is more benefit where it is needed. Of all of the dozen or so microcredit websites that I have used, Zidisha is the one that impresses me most.

Was your donation impactful?

Definitely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

Zidisha is a single place that a struggling individual can find affordable and dignified financial aid. Zidisha gives everyone a chance to prove his honesty and trustworthy to the world!

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

find a way to effectively update ALL members of any changes of the rules at the same time.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

 
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Rating: 4 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

great staff it will assist the entrepreneurs it is a wonderful experience to connect with zidisha

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Okay

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

3 people found this review helpful

I was pointed towards microfinance a few years ago as an alternative to charity donation - more sustainable, more interaction, not simply pouring pounds (I am British) down the drain. It was about the time of the shake up in microfinance and people were realising that sites like Kiva took a significant cut along the way.

I came across Zidisha in Jan 2012 via a websearch and it was very well reviewed. I find it very rewarding as it is very explicit about how it works and you decide exactly who you support - it's a direct line to the real people trying to make a living in developing countries. To be honest, I don't worry too much about whether I gain or loose money as I see it as a "leveraged" charity donation. I don't look for a significant return but there is a 2-3% default rate that I loosely try to offset and overall I think I'm up slightly.

This is a great organisation. I check it every now and again but I fully expect to donate through it in the medium to long term.

Was your donation impactful?

Definitely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

 
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