Over the holiday season, Inc.com reached out to our colleagues at Mansueto Ventures -- the company that publishes the print and online editions of Inc. and Fast Company -- with an idea to sponsor an entrepreneur through an organization called Kiva.org. As you may know, Kiva.org is a website that facilitates microloans to entrepreneurs all over the developing world.
Since its launch in 2005, Kiva has partnered with 77 microfinance institutions in 39 countries. These "field partners," as they are called by Kiva, identify entrepreneurs in impoverished communities who are in need of loans to purchase the necessary equipment and supplies to sustain their businesses.
Through its Internet-based model, Kiva.org makes it possible for just about anyone to support an entrepreneur in a developing country. The site displays short profiles of all the entrepreneurs who have qualified for loans, so potential lenders can choose who their money will go to. Once the loan is disbursed, the microfinance institution posts progress updates to the Kiva site until the entrepreneur has repaid the money.
At Inc.com, we saw lending through Kiva as a unique opportunity for us to forge a connection with entrepreneurs in other parts of the world and to shed light on their experiences. While our sponsored entrepreneurs may be in a much different place economically than the U.S.-based entrepreneurs we cover, the trials and tribulations that they face as business owners are no doubt similar -- and we will use this blog to examine their challenges as well as their triumphs.