Thursday, October 23, 2008

Making Kiva more transparent

One thing we strive towards at Kiva is increased transparency into how microfinance works. Next week, we'll be releasing some changes to how we account for our loans. If you want the really, really detailed version, I encourage you to read this post and the surrounding discussion at KivaFriends.

If you just want the high level, though, here are the changes we’ll be making:

  1. We will be improving the site on which our Field Partners post fundraising loans to work better under low-connectivity environments. Many of our partners work in environments where the internet isn't super snappy. That makes it hard for them to post loans to our website.

  2. We'll be providing more flexibility to partners in that they'll have more definition over the loan terms for each entrepreneur. Previously, Kiva expected entrepreneurs to pay back once monthly for the duration of the loan term. However, this isn't necessarily a fair assumption. For example, many of our Field Partners support agricultural loan products which pay back once at the end of the loan term.

  3. As a side effect of #2, Kiva will have more accurate data. In order to provide Field Partners with more flexibility, we need them to enter more data like when the loan will actually be disbursed to the entrepreneur and what they expect the collection schedule to be. This means that the data we then expose about each loan is more real. The goal here, again, is to really improve transparency into how Kiva, our Field Partners and the entrepreneurs we serve operate.