Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lender Spotlight: Jerry Reynolds on why he lends, and the power of Kiva to connect

"Every microfinance loan represents opportunity," long-time Kiva lender Jerry Reynolds passionately declares. "It’s interesting to think how the simple act of providing opportunity has a diverse impact on each borrower and their community."

Incidentally, Jerry's own life has also been shaped by the serendipitous contributions of a few inspiring individuals.

As a child, Jerry lived in a home that faced incredible challenges, and his family grew their own food. From an early age, he was acutely aware of how much time they spent trying to get basic things like heat and food.

"Imagine what people could accomplish if their minds were free to think beyond the future of their next meal," Jerry says, explaining that he first starting thinking about these issues when he was 13, listening to his mentor describe his travels and service experience with Rotary International.

"Later in life, I often wondered why he never provided me with those opportunities," he says. "Today, I would argue he gave me the greatest gift of all -- the tools to provide those opportunities for others. He taught me how to think and tuned my ability to understand. I would ask him questions, and even at age 13 he would smile and say 'you know the answers already, be brave.'"

Years later, Jerry was introduced to Kiva and microfinance at a conference in Seattle, and turned his thoughts into action.

Jerry recalls being "incredibly moved" after hearing Kiva Co-founder and CEO Matt Flannery speak about poverty and the life-changing role loans can play. 

"I felt connected," he says. "I understood my own life experience in a new way. Poverty is a universal challenge that we can all over come." 

Shortly thereafter, he made it a personal commitment to devote 10% of his income to microfinance projects.

While it was Kiva's unique model that initially grabbed Jerry's attention, he found Matt's diverse background inspiring. As a programmer, he related to his experience in engineering. 

"Every person in the world is an entrepreneur and technology is an incredibly powerful tool when used for good," Jerry says, drawing parallels between programming and development. Each relies on complete understanding of basics in order to build -- and any flaw in understanding results in unexpected and unpredictable outcomes. "As an entrepreneur, there is never just one answer, but you have to have a path and a willingness to constantly evolve and adapt to changing conditions."

When we asked Jerry what he likes most about Kiva, he replied, “I focus on sustainability. When people have the ability to communicate and feed their family, there is nothing in the world they cannot accomplish! The more we understand about our similarities, the more we can provide meaningful education that focuses on the future. And, that gets me pumped up. Opportunity is the road to the future for all of us, never give up and go get it."

Why do you use Kiva? Share your story with us at or on Facebook.