Frequently Asked Questions — Trustee Edition

What if I want to be more involved with Kiva?

Consider becoming a Kiva Hub! To best provide access to capital to underserved entrepreneurs and communities, offering both an intuitive Kiva platform and higher-touch hands-on assistance from a local Kiva ambassador proves most successful. Kiva operates best as an access-to-capital tool that is leveraged by local communities. Through an established and formal relationship, a local Hub will assume responsibility and relative control over the Kiva Loan product within a particular market. The Hub will employ a Capital Access Manager or CAM, a staff member internal to the Hub who is trained on how to share the loan opportunity with entrepreneurs and local stakeholders. The CAM is also equipped to support clients on the back end of the Kiva process. Kiva will provide the CAM with the entire borrower pipeline to manage and grow. Sometimes, Hubs have their own Trustee account, in which they are able to endorse loan applications. Read about our Hubs model here, and if you’d like to talk more, reach out to trustees@kiva.org.

Who are the Kiva Trustees?

You can find a list of all Kiva Trustees here. Make sure to uncheck the box that says “fundraising only” to see the full list. 

How do I become a Trustee?

Note: Kiva US is not currently accepting new Trustee applications at this time. Please e-mail trustees@kiva.org to be added to a list to partner with Kiva US in the future once applications re-open. If you are already working directly with a Kiva representative, please contact them to be invited to apply.

How do I know if my Trustee application was approved?

If you have submitted a full Trustee application and signed the Trustee Terms of Use, you’re approved! 

How often will Trustee statuses be updated?

Trustees and Capital Access Managers will be given updated versions of the Trustee Status list bi-annually.

Can Individual Trustees become Certified? 

Not at this time. We are moving towards Institutional Trustee endorsements and away from personal ones. 

I am a new Trustee, can I become Certified? 

Of course! As soon as you meet the requirements listed previously, you will automatically achieve Certified Trustee status during the next round of Trustee status evaluations. 

I am an Active Trustee and I want to become Certified, what do I do?

To bump your organization from Active to Certified, you need to meet the specified requirements. Feel free to reach out to your Regional Manager (listed here) if you are interested in learning more about being a Certified Trustee.

What happens if my repayment rate dips below 75%?

Unfortunately, if your repayment rate remains below 75% for more than 6 months, your Trustee account might be paused. Contact the Regional Manager or Capital Access Manager in your market to make a risk management plan. A risk management work plan can include: 

  • Getting in touch with all of your delinquent borrowers about their payment plan

  • More rigorous preparation for future borrowers on loan repayment

  • Active communication between yourself and your Regional Manager or Capital Access Manager

What happens to my repayment rate if my borrower defaults on a loan?

Unfortunately, having a borrower default negatively affects your repayment rate. We highly recommend getting in touch and working with your borrowers as much as possible before referring for default. If you are concerned about a borrower, please reach out to your local CAM or Regional Manager.

What if I want my account removed from public view?

Ask your Regional Manager (listed below) to change your account status to "hidden." What happens:

  • Nobody can see your public Trustee profile anymore, including you

  • Your endorsements and endorsed loans are still public

  • You can't endorse any new loans

What does it mean if my account is paused? 

Your Trustee profile will remain public on Kiva.org but you will no longer be able to endorse borrowers. Your account was likely paused due to inability to reach the minimum Active Trustee requirements (i.e. repayment rate and endorsements). For questions regarding your repayment rate, please refer to your Regional Manager. They can help you make a plan to put your organization and your borrowers back on track.


Frequently Asked Questions — Supporting Your Borrowers

How is Kiva different from other crowdfunders?

What does a successful Kiva borrower look like?

  • Are Tech-Able, or Tech-Willing

    • Responsive by email, have a PayPal account and bank account, and are practiced at website navigation, etc.

  • Are Significantly Impacted by a Small Loan

    • A loan of $1000 to $10,000 will either increase the business’ revenue or decrease expenses

  • Have a Good Picture and Loan Statement

    • Easily identifiable business depiction in a high-quality loan photo and strong narrative 

  • Work with the Kiva + Trustee Team

    • Borrowers who work closely with Trustees and their Kiva representatives are more likely to have funding success on the platform

  • Have a Strong Network of Supporters

    • Approved borrowers must recruit 5-25 people from the community to lend $25 each to their profile

  • Are willing to climb the Capital Ladder

    • Based on their age of business or financials, some businesses start with small loans and then grow with Kiva

What will my borrower qualify for?

All small or medium sized business at any stage can apply for a Kiva loan through the online application process. A great profile picture, clear business story, online presence and a clear vision to utilize the loan amount are a few ingredients for a successful campaign. Depending on the business history and current finances, the Kiva algorithm qualifies each candidate for one of the three funding buckets. 

Kiva U.s. Loan terms & qualifications

Kiva U.s. Loan terms & qualifications

Kiva’s social writing for each bucket in for the candidates to bring a few people from their own network to vouch for them and become their initial lenders. This is called the ‘private fundraising period’. After this is accomplished, the borrowers go live on the Kiva platform, also called the ‘Public Fundraising Period’ where 1.7 Million Kiva  existing lender are able to support them.

Kiva U.s. Loan terms & qualifications

Kiva U.s. Loan terms & qualifications

What is the timeline of the Kiva application process?

lifecycle of a kiva loan

lifecycle of a kiva loan

How do I endorse a borrower?

Go to your Trustee Dashboard and manually search for the name of the borrower or of their business. The loan will show up as long as the application has been started, even if it has not yet been completed. This process should take less than 60 seconds as demonstrated by this video, which you should watch after logging into your Trustee Dashboard.

Why is my endorsement not working?

You may not yet have signed the Trustee Terms of Use, which you must do to be able to endorse loans. Follow these steps to sign the contract:

  • Log in and go to https://www.kiva.org/my/Trustee and click "Edit Trustee profile.” 

  • Read and sign the contract, and confirm on the "review" page that it's complete.

If this doesn’t solve the problem, please email trustees@kiva.org with screenshots.

How should I evaluate whether or not to endorse a borrower?

  • Do you believe in their character?

    • Is this person committed to their business? 

    • Do you believe they are the type of person who will commit to repaying the loan, even when the going gets tough? 

    • Would you lend this person money?

  • Do you believe in their business?

    • Have you seen this person’s business plan and financials? 

    • Has this person done the work to be successful? 

    • Do you understand what they’ll use the loan for and how it will impact their business?

    • Will the loan help to increase revenue and enable repayment?

  • Will this loan have a positive social impact?

    • Will the loan have a positive impact on the community?

    • Will the loan have a positive impact on the entrepreneur and his or her family? 

Is there a limit on the number of loans a Trustee can endorse? 

There is no limit to the number of loans a Trustee can endorse, provided you abide by Kiva policies.

What does Kiva consider a conflict of interest, and how is that handled?

  1. Employees or volunteers of current Trustees may apply to be Kiva US borrowers except for the following restrictions, and their relationship to Kiva must be disclosed on the relevant public-facing loan page on Kiva’s website (personal story); these borrowers may not be endorsed by the Trustee

    1. Main supervisor for the Kiva program within their organization

    2. Directly working on the Kiva program

  2. If a Trustee has a familial relationship with, or sits on the board of a Kiva US borrower, this must be disclosed on the relevant public-facing loan page on Kiva’s website (personal story)

  3. If a Trustee has a direct investment in a business, their endorsement cannot result in a higher loan amount, and this must be disclosed on the relevant public-facing loan page on Kiva’s website (personal story)

What is the baseline eligibility for a Kiva borrower?

  • Kiva reserves the right to reject any loan application, and there will be a zero tolerance policy for borrowers that are judged to have deliberately lied or falsified this financial information on their Kiva loan application.

  • Demographics:

    • Borrower must own a business

    • The business must be registered or verified in the US, either through a legal business proof or as verified by the Certified Trustee or Kiva Hub/CAM

      • Kiva does not lend in the following states: NV, NM, ND, VT, RI

    • Borrower must be 18 or older.

    • We do not have citizenship requirements for our loans

  • Financials:

    • Not currently in bankruptcy or foreclosure

    • If prior bankruptcy, must be discharged or dismissed

  • Criminal convictions:

    • No violent criminal convictions in the last 5 years

    • No financial criminal convictions in the last 5 years

    • No sex offenders

    • No terrorists 

  • Kiva borrowers must have a verified PayPal account with an attached bank account

  • Business types:

    • Business must be verifiable in one of the following ways

    • Loan use: Kiva is committed to principles of peaceful economic development and respect for human rights. Therefore, in connection with its loan postings on the website, partners must not extend credit or loans to Kiva borrowers who are in any way engaged in:

      • prostitution

      • the sale or trafficking of adult or child pornography 

      • lethal weapons, including but not limited to, firearms 

      • narcotics or illicit drugs, the offer or sale of which are illegal or otherwise prohibited in the partner's country, or 

      • who are otherwise engaged in criminal activities, including activities that could be related to terrorism.

    • In addition, Kiva prohibits:

      • Cannabis and hemp businesses 

      • Loans that are not legal in the country in which the loan is made or, even if legal in the posting country, that violate an international convention

      • Loans for Kiva borrowers to purchase stock in businesses or projects, or to facilitate other forms of equity investment

        • This prohibition applies to entrepreneurs buying part of a company

        • This prohibition does not apply to purchases of entire businesses where the borrower becomes the owner and operator

      • Loans for Kiva borrowers to operate pawn shops or other lending operations (e.g. debt collection businesses)

    • Kiva, as a 501(c)(3), is prohibited from funding loans that support specific political individuals or pieces of legislation

        • Kiva is furthermore unable to fund loans supporting causes that infringe upon human rights or are otherwise controversial

        • If a loan application or a borrower’s internet presence indicates support of a political/social cause, escalate to the Risk & Credit Operations team for a case-by-case evaluation

    • Additional ineligible businesses and loan uses

      • Pyramid marketing schemes

      • Direct sellers or multi-level marketing

        • Mary Kay, Avon, LulaRoe, etc.

      • Contract workers of large corporations

        • Examples: Lyft, Uber, AirBnB, Doordash

      • Tobacco-based businesses

        • Including vape shops, cigarette sellers, cigar shops, hookah bars

      • Cryptocurrencies

      • Drones

      • Loans being used primarily to refinance credit card debt

Do you need to be a citizen to apply to Kiva?

No - Kiva does not ask for any citizenship documentation. Kiva may use third parties for background checks (done with a borrower’s knowledge and consent) and payment processing that may ask for a social security number.

Can Trustees help borrowers fill out their application?

Yes, Trustees can help in the application process. However, borrowers must be a present and active participant in filling out the application, and they must be the one to sign the application. 

What are the accepted forms of business verification for a borrower?

Kiva’s requirements for business verification can be found here

Does Kiva report on credit?

No, at this time Kiva does not report on personal or business credit.

Does Kiva look a borrower’s credit score?

Kiva does a soft pull of a borrower’s credit score. While we do ask for a borrower's credit score when reviewing a loan, we have no minimum credit score requirements.

What happens after endorsement?

Loans will be reviewed by HQ, and borrowers will be notified and called if they are approved for a Kiva loan. Trustees are cc’d in the email sent to borrowers when the loan page goes live.

Why was a borrower that I endorsed not approved for the full loan amount?

Many factors may contribute to why a borrower was not approved for the full loan amount they applied for. Below is a guideline to show where a borrower might fall. Please note that approval decisions are subject to change due to other factors in the loan application such as the industry, risk, and impact of the business.

What happens if a borrower I endorsed expires?

Kiva campaigns are all-or-nothing, so if a borrower does not reach their required number of private lenders or their full loan amount, their loan expires. Any borrower whose loan expired at any stage and for any reason may re-apply and be re-reviewed 3+ months after expiration.

Does Kiva ever not disburse funds to fully funded borrowers?

Kiva will issue refunds (return funds to lenders) and not give money raised to the borrower if we find a borrower has 1) loaned to themselves, or 2) violated our community guidelines, or 3) engaged in self-promoting one’s business and loan through Kiva’s lending teams. Borrowers with refunded loans are allowed to re-apply 3+ months after refund at review manager’s discretion, except in cases of fraud

How do repeat loans work?

Kiva borrowers may only have one outstanding loan at a time. Once a borrower fully repays their loan, and at least 6 months have past since they received the funds, they can apply for another Kiva loan. If a borrower repaid their previous loan on-time (no late payments), they are eligible to pre-qualify for 2x their previous loan amount up to $10k.

What happened to the loan pilot of $10K - $25K?

The Large Loan pilot program has been paused. We have done 17 of these loans. It is a promising yet complex new product that was distracting for the key impact Kiva is solving for: <$10k small business loans. 

In the meantime, we are relying on the Kiva Direct to Social Enterprise program to support growing businesses in the US. This is a different program from Kiva US and as such the underwriting criteria are very different. You can find the FAQ here. and the loan inquiry to explore if there might be a fit.


This FAQ doesn’t answer my question! Who do I talk to next?

Sophia Zisook | North Central

sophiaz@kiva.org

OH, MI, IN, IL, WI, MN, IA, MO, SD, NE, KS

 

Alyssa Campbell | Atlantic

alyssac@kiva.org

ME, NH, MA, CT, NY, PA, NJ, DE, MD, WV, VA, NC, SC, GA, FL

 

Sarah Adeel | South Central

saraha@kiva.org

CA (South of San Francisco), KY, TN, MS, AL, AR, LA, OK, TX

Anne Lufkin | Pacific

annel@kiva.org

CA (North of San Francisco), MT, WY, CO, ID, UT, AZ, WA, OR, AK, HI, PR

Kiva does not lend in NV, NM, ND, VT, and RI. We are sorry for any inconvenience. Kiva did a canvas of licensing laws in all 50 states and paused lending in these 5 states because of ambiguous lending laws that make it unclear if Kiva is able to operate.


Glossary of Terms

Trustee

Trustees are organizations invested in economic development in their communities. Trustees are often already providing wrap-around services to small business owners in their community, and use their work to source entrepreneurs they believe in and publicly endorse them as borrowers on the Kiva website. Trustees have no financial liability for loans, but their reputation is tied to the repayment rate of the borrowers they endorse. Unlike Hubs, Trustees never actually handle the loans, which Kiva disburses directly to borrowers. Trustees are catalysts of empowerment to entrepreneurs in their community with 0% interest loans. 

For more information, please visit: https://www.kiva.org/trustees

Kiva Hub 

To best provide access to capital to underserved entrepreneurs and communities, offering both an intuitive Kiva platform and higher-touch hands-on assistance from a local Kiva ambassador proves most successful. Kiva operates best as an access-to-capital tool that is leveraged by local communities. Through an established and formal relationship, a local Hub will assume responsibility and relative control over the Kiva Loan product within a particular market. The Hub will employ a Capital Access Manager or CAM, a staff member internal to the Hub who is trained on how to share the loan opportunity with entrepreneurs and local stakeholders. The CAM is also equipped to support clients on the back end of the Kiva process. Kiva will provide the CAM with the entire borrower pipeline to manage and grow. Sometimes, Hubs have their own Trustee account, in which they are able to endorse loan applications. 

Kiva Capital Access Manager (CAM)

A Capital Access Manager, or a CAM, is a staff member internal to the Kiva Hub who is trained on how to share the loan opportunity with entrepreneurs and local stakeholders, as well as how to support clients on the back end of the Kiva process. Additionally, Kiva equips the CAM with the entire borrower pipeline to manage and grow. The CAM then takes on the responsibility for all of the borrower facing relationships in their market.

Partner

Kiva partners with a range of organizations, including microfinance institutions (MFIs), social businesses, schools and nonprofits. These organizations are united by a strong commitment to serving the needs of the community, especially excluded populations, either through financial services or by using credit to expand access to beneficial products and services. 

For more information, please visit: https://www.kiva.org/about/where-kiva-works

Lender

Anyone can become a Kiva lender by contributing as little as $25 to a small business on the Kiva platform. Lenders also have the option to sort the loan profiles they are viewing by a geography, industry, gender of the borrower and much more. Once paid back, over 90% of lenders choose to use the same money that was repaid and contribute to a new Kiva loan profile.

For more information, please visit: https://www.kiva.org/lend

Lending Teams

A group of people who are online Kiva lenders and want to have a forum to discuss and set goals together. Often, lending teams have themes; they can be anything from a company team like Team HP, Team Google, Team Canada, Team Australia, or institutions like University of Michigan Alumni team.

Anyone can create a team with a theme and invite people to join. A Kiva lender can join as many teams as they want. A lending team page shows all communication within the group as well as the money lent out collectively. Often, teammates will promote certain borrowers, so

that others will be incentivized to help them. 

For more information, please visit: https://www.kiva.org/teams

Matching Funds

Local tech companies, financial institutions, foundations and other organizations working in the economic development space set up funds that match every dollar given to small businesses through Kiva. Internally, it is sometimes referred to as a ‘managed lending account’. Matching funds expedite the fundraising process by 2x and is highly beneficial for borrowers as well as the community at large.

For more information, please visit: https://www.kiva.org/partner-with-us/loan-matching