Kiva: Is Money Enough?

Overview

Kiva is a non-profit online platform that facilitates peer-to-peer micro lending. I was fortunate enough to speak with a representative from Kiva named Brady Begin regarding their commitment to digital business social media.

Kiva has over 1.6 million lenders that provide financial opportunities to 2.2 million borrowers across 82 countries. Over $934 million have been exchanged on this site and there is a 97.2% repayment rate. Kiva does not decide which loans are featured on their website, but instead works with local institutions they call “Field Partners.” These partnerships encourage individuals to register for loans and ensure that the funds are being effectively utilized. Kiva believes that they facilitate economic growth across the world. Each loan has the potential for a ripple effect, creating jobs and opportunities beyond just the recipient.

Kiva was one of the first companies to successfully achieve the notion of crowdfunding in 2005. Begin clarified that they are not a microfinance institution but that they “serve as a crowdfunding platform for both borrowers and lenders around the world to use.” He followed this statement by emphasizing that “In fact, if you asked our co-founder Matt Flannery he would argue that Kiva invented crowdfunding in the first place.”

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Background

Digital Business Platform

Begin stated, “Kiva would quite literally be nothing without our online platform.” It is this online presence that has allowed Kiva to successfully crowdsource funding from across an international community. As mentioned in my previous blog post, The Internet: A Global Community, the Internet has created an opportunity for networks to expand drastically. Kiva has taken advantage of this by generating funding opportunities from the average person. Anyone is able to lend from anywhere in the world through this online site. The lender first chooses what issue they are passionate about, and is then prompted to give directly to a particular individual. Begin highlighted that, “Our goal is to serve the unbanked and underserved, and we do so by sharing their stories on our site.” This creates an opportunity for relationship building and humanizes the impact of the loan. 

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Social Media Usage

Begin specified that their social media strategy is to generate additional lenders, and rally existing lenders. They do this through the traditional sites including “Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.” They attempt to include a mix of content on their social media sites including the following: information around microfinance and social entrepreneurship, calls to action, and promotion for the business.

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Expanding Relationships

The State of Affairs

Facilitating relationships through social media with both donors and lenders will increase social impact. One specific question that I asked Begin was, how they attempt to engage both donors and recipients beyond just the transaction? He specified that this is one of their ongoing priorities.

In terms of borrowers, they maintain active relationships with their local Field Partners. They regularly visit these partnerships to monitor their operations and meet local borrowers. In terms of lenders, they attempt to regularly engage them. For example, they recently held a Lender Summit where they invited top lenders to Kiva headquarters to get an “inside look,” and facilitate conversation. Additionally, Kiva is regularly looking for ways to connect lenders and recipients. One example Begin mentioned was an event called “Made in Oakland.” This event highlighted the Kiva borrowers that had made an impact in the city. To push this event even further they could have invited local lenders to see the impact that Kiva is having in their local community.

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My Suggestion

In general I believe they could be more effectively leveraging their social media presence to drive relationship building. This relationship building includes the following:

  • Kiva to borrower
  • Kiva to lender
  • Lender to borrower

Kiva most effectively utilizes social media to build relationships with lenders. There are several instances on their Twitter and Facebook where they are directly engaging them. They retweet, reply, and encourage lenders to generate content on social media. Specifically on their Facebook and Instagram, they occasional highlight loan listings to encourage more lenders to get involved. They could push this even farther by having campaigns where they encourage Lenders to share “Why I lend” thus creating awareness and excitement.

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While they share the listings from borrowers, they do not directly engage them. It is likely that these borrowers have access to Internet individually, or through their Field Partners. They are already engaging with Kiva’s online platform. They could encourage these recipients to post updates to their businesses or next steps. This could be done through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or even Tumblr. They could also encourage network building among their borrowers. I recently blogged about a company called Artlifting, a social enterprise that works with disabled and homeless artists. They utilize Facebook to empower their artists by creating a space for them to offer support and advice to one another. This could be an effective model for Kiva. By using these social media platforms to directly engage their borrowers, they could increase the impact of each dollar. These suggestions would help to engage recipients beyond just the fiscal transaction and empower them to create content on Social Media.

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If both parties are engaged actively on these platforms, there is a greater opportunity for connecting them. Kiva regularly looks for ways to meaningfully expand the relationships between recipients and lenders. Social media provides an opportune platform to facilitate this engagement. Kiva could encourage lenders to share the causes they are loaning to, and simultaneously urge recipients to engage their lenders on social media. They can use twitter to encourage parties to tweet and reply to one another. They could utilize Facebook or Linked-In to create groups where donors and recipients can directly engage with one another. Increasing the relationships between borrower and lender will improve the experience of both parties as well as increase impact. The more lenders understand the borrowers situation, the more likely they are to lend again or encourage a friend to get involved. As borrowers connect with the lenders, they will likely feel empowered, and the repayment rate will increase.

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Conclusion

Kiva is an incredible platform that provides fiscal opportunities for individuals across the globe. They utilize digital business at the heart of their organization to leverage the global community and all its resources. They also have a strong social media presence that could be leveraged to increase relationships with both lenders and borrowers. In general Kiva facilitates the average person to create impact in communities across the world. Not only do they provide funding for small businesses and entrepreneurship, but also promote connections between people with vastly different backgrounds.

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3 comments

  1. cattybradley · ·

    Great post, Emma! I agree with your suggestion for Kiva to increase its interaction with lenders on social media as well as promoting ways for lenders and borrowers to connect. I think Kiva is an excellent example of how leveraging the internet allow for people all over the world help other people. Finally, I think the ease of set up with Kiva is another advantage – it doesn’t require a ton of work to contribute to this great service.

  2. Really thoughtful post! I assumed Kiva was a microfinance institution as I began to read and I would guess that most people don’t assume its crowdfunding. I think their business model is really strong but you made some valid points about improving their relationships on both ends of the business. Creating these strong relationships is not only helpful in bringing back existing people to the platform, but also to get new people to join. If lenders can see first hand how their money is creating an impact amongst the borrowers, I think it would create a more meaningful experience.

  3. Great, in depth post, as usual!

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