Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Clarifying How Kiva Works

Dear Kiva Lenders:

We noticed, following some recent stories in the press about philanthropy and Kiva, that some Kiva Lenders may have incorrect assumptions and some misunderstandings about Kiva.

In the spirit of clarity, we want to state a few facts:

1. The borrowers listed on Kiva are real people.
Over 267,000 people have received a loan through Kiva. These are real people, and their picture, name and location are listed with their loan request (when privacy considerations permit). In many cases these people are in remote places, and much effort has been taken to ensure they are represented accurately on the Kiva website. Any suggestion that these individuals are not real loan recipients is categorically false.

2. Kiva Entrepreneurs do receive the loans listed on the Kiva website.
Kiva works with Field Partners on the ground that are under legal contract to ensure that each Kiva borrower listed receives their loan funded on the Kiva website. Kiva conducts audits to ensure that our Field Partners are doing this. To suggest that this is not taking place is to suggest that Kiva's Field Partners are in violation of their contract with Kiva.

3. Your money funds the loans to Kiva Entrepreneurs.
When you lend to a borrower on Kiva, that loan is funded by you, and owed to you. There has been much discussion of the timing of transactions to get the actual cash to each borrower, which, as you can imagine, is often a difficult and complicated process. Regardless, the funds loaned by each Kiva borrower are owed back to each Kiva lender who lent to them. To learn more about how loan funds get to Kiva Entrepreneurs, click here.

4. Kiva is not a sponsorship organization. Kiva facilitates loans, not donations.
Unfortunately, some recent stories in the press have grouped Kiva with child sponsorship organizations and other organizations which accept donations. Kiva does not facilitate donations to individuals. Kiva is a microlending website which facilitates loans, not donations, to real individuals around the world. Kiva is not an organization through which you donate to a pool of money, to be distributed amongst various projects of Kiva's choosing.

Making Kiva work is a complicated practice and we strive to make it easy to understand. This is why we have always maintained in-depth details about how Kiva works in our Help Center. If you would like to learn more, you can do so by visiting the Help Center or feel free to contact our customer service team. We want to thank you for lending and for your continued support of Kiva’s mission: to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.

Our very best for a safe and happy holiday season,

Matt Flannery
Co-Founder and CEO