Welcome to the newest installment of the Kiva Connection. In my first blog post last month, I wrote about our company-wide endeavor to make microloans to entrepreneurs in developing countries around the world through Kiva.org.
What's great about getting involved with microfinancing through Kiva is that their online model provides a level of visibility to the lenders -- anyone can go to the Website, see a picture of the entrepreneurs requesting loans, and read their story. And while I could simply post a link to our borrowers' profiles on Kiva.org, what I am trying to accomplish with this blog is to make our sponsored entrepreneurs -- whose day-to-day work lives can feel so distant from our own office-centric jobs -- a little more accessible.
To do this, I have connected with several Kiva-affiliated people, or fellows, who are on the ground working with Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) in countries where Mansueto Ventures has sponsored entrepreneurs. In effect, Kiva fellows are the bridge between the MFIs (that assess the businesses in need and disburse the loans) and the entrepreneurs themselves.
One of the things I have learned in corresponding with Kiva fellows across the globe is that the process of approving and disbursing loans for entrepreneurs is a laborious one. The surging popularity of Kiva has certainly allowed many microfinance institutions to thrive, however, most of these institutions still lack the resources to efficiently process the sheer volume of loans that are requested on a daily basis.
Because many MFIs are stretched thin, their staff does not always have time to write journal updates on every entrepreneur. But, Kiva lenders do receive brief progress e-mails once the loan has been disbursed to the entrepreneur, and any time that the borrower pays back a portion of the loan. Based on the e-mail updates I have received, all 7 of our loans have been disbursed to the entrepreneurs and four of the businesses have already made a repayment.