Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Continuing to Think Outside the Box

You never need to look far for inspiration at Kiva. Every day hundreds of borrower profiles are added to the website, giving us a glimpse into the lives of individuals working hard to ensure a better life for their families. And every day, thousands of individuals around the world contribute their own funds to these loans as a way of saying, “I believe in you. You can do this.”

So, when we at Kiva take a step back to ask ourselves, “Are we doing enough? How can we increase the impact being created?” we are never at a loss for inspiration to push our imaginations and efforts even further. If a woman who has never stepped into a bank dares to take out a microloan to start a vegetable stand, or a classroom of middle-school children hold a fundraiser for their Kiva lending account, then you can be sure we are inspired to think outside the box and explore new ways to make an impact in the lives of our borrowers and lenders.

Kiva is rooted in the belief that everyone wants to support, and contribute to, the well-being of others. And it was with an entrepreneurial spirit, and commitment to innovation, that we were able to bring this belief to life. Continuing to nurture a culture of innovation is not easy, but it is a priority at Kiva. As we explore new ideas and pilot projects, we are excited to share them with you, our growing community. We thank you for cheering us on, having patience as we try new things, and standing by our side to celebrate the successes and learnings.

Here are some of the things we are currently doing to continue the cycle of innovation at Kiva:

New Types of Loans and Field Partners: Over the past 12 months Kiva has introduced Student Loans to support education, Green Loans to support environmental initiatives, and Kiva City to empower U.S. communities to jumpstart small business growth through Kiva loans. In the last month, Kiva has also added its first non-traditional Field Partner, One Acre Fund, which works to help meet the seasonal supply needs of smallholder farmers in Kenya. Kiva is currently in the process of bringing onboard two more non-traditional Field Partners, and is in conversation with several others, that will enable us to extend our Green initiative and move into supporting clean water for all.

Kiva’s new partnership with One Acre Fund highlights our commitment to innovation.

Meet Lorna and her son who are benefitting this new partnership - Photo Credit: Ebrahim Kigame, One Acre Fund

Recognizing the Innovative Work of our Field Partners: We know you care about making an impact, so we have been working hard to create a way for lenders to better understand our Field Partners’ innovative work to better serve their communities. In a few weeks we will be launching a new Social Performance feature, which spotlights the additional efforts Kiva’s Field Partners are making in the areas of training, expanded financial and nonfinancial product offerings, and increased reach into marginalized populations, to name a few. We are excited to bring more awareness to the innovative efforts of our Field Partners, while also offering our lending community additional information to support their funding decisions.

Piloting New Ideas: Our newest innovation project, referred to as “Kiva Zip”, focuses on the lender and borrower connection. Currently in the early stages of development and testing, Kiva is excited to be looking at new technologies, including mobile payments, to expand our reach to borrowers while also minimizing costs. We have a long road of learning ahead of us, and we look forward to you joining us on the journey.

As we reflect on the Thanksgiving holiday (here in the US) we want to thank you for giving us the courage to try new things, some of which you’ve seen, and some that we’re excited to share with you soon. While you continue to support us, we’ll continue to innovate, and iterate – always with the goal of further advancing our social mission.

Stay tuned!

(And don’t forget to think outside the (gift) box this holiday season by giving the gift of a Kiva Card!)