Microfinance programs harness Web to connect borrowers and lenders
Kiva is Not Quite What It Seems
Innocuous Changes vs. Grand Designs
Microfinance Gateway [pdf]
Since Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in 2006 for their work on microcredit lending, a number of institutions working on similar issues have received a great deal of attention and press coverage. One such organization is Kiva, which was founded in 2005 by Matt and Jessica Flannery. Kiva prides itself on serving as a link "between small individual lenders and small individual borrowers", and on their website visitors can select the person they would like to support. Recently, this personal connection came under question by David Roodman, a research fellow at the Center for Global Development. In a lengthy blog post, Roodman questioned the direct one-to-one relationship between the lender and the borrower, while remaining largely positive about Kiva's mission. Some commentators have continued to raise the question of transparency, and in the wake of the news, Kiva amended a statement on their website to state simply "Kiva connects people through lending to alleviate poverty." This controversy has not been bad for Kiva, and the president of Kiva, Premal Shah, commented this week "If anything, it has drawn more people into the nuance and beauty of this model of microfinance. It's highly imperfect, but it's like a 3 ½ year-old child: it has a lot of potential."
The first link will take users to an article from this Monday's New York Times which talks about this recent controversy surrounding Kiva. The second link leads to an article from the Mercury News that provides additional background on the nature of microfinance programs and their mission. Moving on, the third link leads visitors to David Roodman's original blog post about Kiva. The fourth link will whisk users away to a post on creating a "real marketplace for development" by Dennis Whittle, the CEO of Global Giving. The fifth link leads to the Microfinance Gateway homepage. Here visitors can learn about how microfinance works in different countries around the world, read papers from their online library, and peruse announcements from the microfinance industry. The last link leads to the homepage of Kiva, and it's well worth looking at some of the profiles and success stories featured here.