A Kiva User Responds

Danielle Hamilton, A Kiva user who has been commenting on their “sold out” status recently left the following comment:

For the long term, I hope they expedite their research process,
streamlining their review system, allowing more researchers to be
available, thereby increasing the amount of borrowers. This seems to be
the hold-up, so to speak.

As for the ‘exclusivity’ of the service, I could care less for the
cool factor, whether Bill Clinton has mentioned it, or that it was
featured on Oprah. I do care that they have an excellent review
process, amazing repayment stats, excellent collection rates, and
regularly updated business bios to let me know the status of the loan
and repayment schedule. I receive regular e-mails updating me on the
repayments, which prompts me to browse the site again, finding other
businesses that need help.

It’s frustrating to see other blogs & newspapers compare Kiva to
GlobalGiving or other donation sites, trying to capitalize on Kiva’s
success in the MicroFinance realm. These are completely different! I’m
not giving a donation through Kiva. It’s a loan that will be repaid,
and I can plug my $25 back into another business. It’s comparable to
the Grameen Bank, on a smaller scale. If I wanted to give a donation, I
could do that with thousands of other websites and nonprofits,
including the 2,000+ nonprofits that I currently work with. (Note:
There ARE currently 5 opportunities for MF through GlovalGiving, but it
is obviously NOT their main focus.)


In a separate comment she writes:

I feel that I’ve had more contact about my loan through Kiva than I’ve
had from dozens of nonprofits that I’ve supported over the years.

I think that’s a telling comment as to why Kiva has been so successful. In a world where donors get limited feedback on the impact their are having, it is thrilling to hear real feedback from the borrower.

Danielle also complains about comparing Kiva to Global Giving (I had suggested that Kiva could refer donor/lenders to other “social exchanges”). Clearly lending is different from charitable giving. Yet in the financial markets debt investments (bonds) do compete for investor dollars with equity investments (stocks). My point is that as we see more social exchanges developed, they may want to broker agreements to send donors to each other when they can’t execute a transaction (a similar concept is already in place with stock