A little over a year ago, Inc. connected with Kiva.org, a website that facilitates microloans to entrepreneurs in developing countries. Inc.'s staff made $25 loans to a diverse group of nine entrepreneurs across the globe. Among the entrepreneurs we selected: We loaned money to the owner of a small retail store in Tajikistan that sells consumer electronics; we funded a rice winemaker in Cambodia and learned about the primitive but intricate brewing process that was this entrepreneur's livelihood; and we funded a group loan that was disbursed to five women living in the same village in Uganda, each of whom set up her own business with her portion of the loan money.
To the extent that we have been able to send and receive messages to our borrowers through Kiva's staff and its affiliates, we have tracked the progress of these entrepreneurs on our Kiva Connection blog (blog.inc.com/the-kiva-connection). It has been a happy partnership: Five of our entrepreneurs have already repaid their loans in full. A few of them were second-time borrowers, proving that with just a small but steady source of capital, entrepreneurs can make things happen.
Now, filmmakers Rachelle Escaravage and James Connolly have documented several of the lender-to-borrower connections made through Kiva's network. Beginning last September, the filmmakers traveled the United States interviewing American entrepreneurs who had loaned money through Kiva to their small business counterparts in developing nations. The filmmakers then traveled to Asia, visiting villages in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand to meet with and interview some of the recipients of Kiva loans. The resulting video features interviews with Inc.com senior editor Rod Kurtz in New York City, and Phun Them, a silk weaver in Cambodia to whom our staff lent money. As her story suggests, the obstacles one faces in starting and growing a business are pretty familiar, even if your seed money only totals $500 and you rely on worms to spin your raw materials. To watch the video, click here.