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Thursday
Jul302009

The Kiva community is still mixed on the move to welcome U.S. entrepreneurs

Kiva's recent poll of its members shows that there remains a sharp divide among lenders regarding Kiva's recent pilot program for American borrowers: 48% are in favor, 44% are opposed, and 9% are unsure.

As we profiled earlier, upon the announcement that Kiva would open its doors to borrowers not only in the poorest countries but to those in the U.S., many Kiva forums exploded with cries that this decision was counter to the Kiva mission to alleviate poverty. We never quite understood that rallying cry, since lenders, after all, retain full freedom to choose the recipients of their funding and there are plenty of Americans living in poverty. A more serious complaint, perhaps, is that such a move would divert money from the neediest borrowers, where the poverty is more extreme.

Kiva's study proves that this is not the case: lending is up across the board. June was a record month for the peer-to-peer microfinance lending site:

  • Excluding the U.S., more loans were made to the developing world than ever before -- $4,682,025
  • 4.6% of the loans were made to U.S. borrowers

Regardless of whether you agree with Kiva's policy, you have to admire how much they are engaging their community around the issue. This is one reason why social lending will continue to be the way of the future -- communities on both sides of the transactions have a say in how it is evolving.

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