At Kiva, we're reinserting human relationships into our financial system.

Established in 2005 as the world's first personal micro-lending website, Kiva enables everyday people to pool lending contributions as little as $25 to provide financial access to entrepreneurs in developing communities across the globe. Since its beginning, serving loans to a handful of fishmongers in eastern Uganda, Kiva has grown to enable over 1.7M lenders worldwide to lend a combined $1.2B to more than 2.6M entrepreneurs in 89 countries around the world. 

Kiva has been able to reach this global scale while still maintaining a 97% repayment rate. Kiva's success has garnered worldwide recognition and accolades. In 2008, Kiva was named a TIME magazine Top 50 website. In 2011, The Economist honored Kiva with their Innovation Award. 

After the success of the international model, Kiva recognized the need to tackle financial exclusion by supporting local entrepreneurs in the U.S. and started the Kiva U.S. program in 2011, originally named “Kiva Zip”. Entrepreneurs apply directly to Kiva’s U.S. site to fundraise on the platform and are connected to millions of Kiva lenders. It also enables local lenders to make direct loans, as little as $25 to entrepreneurs in their neighborhoods. Since its beginning, Kiva U.S. has facilitated the crowdfunding of $29 Million from 230,000 Lenders to 5,500 Borrowers.

The Kiva U.S. Program has two primary objectives:

  1. Increase access to capital for small business owners who might not otherwise be served by traditional financial institutions

  2. Connect Kiva's 1.7 Million lenders and inspire more local lenders to support borrowers

Why do we lend to small businesses?

Small businesses are the primary employers in the United States, putting about 60 million Americans to work. Yet accessing small business capital, a vital component of business creation and growth, has become a near-impossible hurdle for many entrepreneurs. Small business owners face dwindling opportunities to access capital, with community banking down 50% over the past decade and 80% of small businesses unable to obtain bank loans. Kiva calls this the “missing micro.”

Kiva meets these challenges by filling a gap in funding through it’s simple, easy-to-use tech platform that supports crowd-sourced loans, Kiva is revolutionizing the availability and accessibility of capital and fostering community support for entrepreneurs in the U.S.

Rethinking creditworthiness.


Advantages of Crowdfunding on Kiva

Unique loan size — Few offer this size (fewer at this rate of no interest and fee). 

  • Average loan size of CDFI is around $12,000

  • Average loan size on Kiva is $5,000

Kiva distributes the cost — Traditional micro-lending is expensive and cumbersome. 

  • Unaffordable microloans: CDFIs charge interest ranging from 6-25%. 

  • Microlenders would need to charge 88% APR to break even on a $2,500 loan.

Kiva focus on character, not credit scores. 

  • Kiva uses holistic underwriting criteria with no minimum credit score, household income or time in business and does not take collateral. We are able to serve clients who would otherwise not get capital. 

Kiva provides access to the first rung of the financial ladder.

  • When clients don’t meet the requirements for a CDFI, they can be referred down the capital ladder to Kiva. When clients graduate out of the Kiva system and are ready for additional financing, they can be referred up the capital ladder to other lenders.

Capacity to engage all stakeholders in a market. 

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  • Kiva product creates a pipeline of clients for the Technical Assistance providers - applicants apply for a loan and can also get plugged into other resources that Trustees and Hubs provide. These services often also result in improved applications.

  • Banks and local philanthropy can be loan matchers, contributing $50K in loan matching accounts

  • Regular community members are engaged through lending - as little as $25

  • Trustees and Hubs track borrower progress

Willing to lend where no one else will.

  • 60% of businesses had been rejected for other forms of financing before coming to Kiva

  • 59% of our borrowers have a credit score below 650 or they don’t know their credit score

Where do Trustees fit in?

Most borrowers on Kiva are "endorsed" by a trustee. Trustees can be organizations such as start-up accelerators, local governments, CDFIs, or technical assistance providers, a few of many Trustee classifications. Their role is to vouch for the character and credibility of the small business owners they are endorsing on the Kiva website. Over the last few years, we have seen great data that, the longer the relationship between the borrower and their Trustee, the higher the repayment rate. 


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