Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kiva, Visa and the power of partnerships

This is a guest post by Doug Michelman, global head of corporate relations at Visa. Kiva and Visa are partners in expanding opportunities for small business owners in the U.S.

Extending opportunities to the world’s 2.5 billion financially underserved is a goal Kiva and Visa share. We at Visa are working to advance financial inclusion by using our secure global network, products and expertise. By connecting lenders to microfinance institutions and their clients through its website, Kiva is putting a very human face and scale to micro-lending.

We've seen the impact that access to secure financial services can have on an individuals and micro-businesses. In Uganda, fishermen on the banks of Lake Victoria can now store money securely on their mobile phones using mobile money systems. By moving from cash to digital currency, these fishermen are better able to manage their finances, pay for necessities and plan for the future.

Since 2010, Visa has partnered with Kiva to expand opportunities for U.S. small businesses to benefit from microloans. Microloans allow entrepreneurs to build credit, expand operations, upgrade equipment and hire or retain employees.

We are excited by the opportunities that partnerships with organizations like Kiva bring to Visa and the challenge of financial exclusion. The road to financial inclusion is a long one and will require collaboration between the private, public and social sectors.

By listening to and learning from experts like Kiva President Premal Shah, we can better understand and therefore better address the challenge of extending secure, reliable and scalable financial tools around the world. We are particularly pleased that Premal agreed to share his vision for financial inclusion and sustainable micro-entrepreneurship as part of our Perspectives on Progress series.

His insights on the intersection between mobile and interoperable electronic payment systems, and successful micro-lending at scale are illuminating and instructive. We are looking forward to continuing the dialogue with Kiva and others on this vitally important subject.