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Kiva.org: Loans that Change Lives
January 17, 2013

I was initially very enthusiastic about Kiva and about supporting them as a lender. The web site in particular is very well organised; it gives you a real sense of being able, with others, to directly help those in many developing and third-world countries. Similarly, the wide range of people seeking loans from Kiva means you can support people from across the World, in different continents, who are seeking to borrow for a host of different purposes. But I became increasing concerned about the high interest rates Kiva are charging - up to 30% - and the amount leaching out into administrative charges. The final straw came when I realised they also post applications for loans from people living in the USA. Now, I am sure there are very many poor people in the US, and that small business owners there may well have difficult in financing their enterprises. But I don't think this is where Kiva should be devoting its energy or resources.

So I have scaled back my involvement with Kiva and now mainly offer finance instead via Zidisha. They have a much smaller client base (focussed in Kenya) and the web site is much less sophisticated. But their admin charges are low and uniquely, I think, they allow the borrower to set the interest rate at what they can afford (sometimes even at 0%). I will still offer some loans through Kiva, but through gritted teeth and only where they appear to be the only micro-finance organisation operating in a country I am interested in.

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When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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