In 2005 Kiva launched a website that allowed individuals to provide small loans to needy entrepreneurs around the world. The money was directed through microfinance institutions (MFIs) to their customers. When the site launched it had only 7 businesses in Uganda. Then their story got picked up by the Daily Kos and donations started flooding their site. With all the subsequent publicity Kiva was unable to line up beneficiaries fast enough to keep up with the donations coming in and for a while had to put a hold on its site.
Fast forward to 2008, Bala Vishwanath, an alum of top Indian tech and management schools – IIT and IIM – saw an opportunity to unstick the Kiva bottleneck and to multiply the social impact of every dollar. He quit his job and worked to setup www.UnitedProsperity.org United Prosperity helps provide loan guarantees that enable poor entrepreneurs to borrow from Microfinance Institutions to build their enterprises in developing countries.
As a guarantor, your donated amount is held as a guarantee by a bank. In turn the bank lends a multiple of your money to the MFI which in turn lends to a poor entrepreneur. The bank will lend from 1.6X to 6.6X of what you put up as a guarantee depending on the credit history of the MFI. When the loan gets paid back by the entrepreneur, your money can be put to use again to guarantee another loan. Your money is only at risk should both the entrepreneur default and the MFI also default on the payment to the bank. Average repayment rates for MFIs are 97% or higher. Your guarantee reduces the risk for the bank and therefore enables the bank to make a loan which they would not have otherwise made.
Here is how you can help:
1. Browse the profiles of poor entrepreneurs looking for loans that have been uploaded from their MFI partners on http://www.unitedprosperity.org
2. Select the entrepreneur(s) you want to support and contribute funds to guarantee their loans.
3. United Prosperity will consolidate the payments received for the same MFI partner and will issue a cash-secured guarantee to a bank on behalf of the MFI. The bank will issue a loan to the MFI and it will in turn lend to the entrepreneur that you have selected.
4. Once the loan is repaid to the MFI and the bank, your guarantee gets freed up. At that point, you can either withdraw your money, or use it to guarantee another loan.
Go to http://www.unitedprosperity.org and get started – it is really simple. Your dollars can make an impact 2X-5X times that on Kiva.org !!
Bala launched his site last week and he has already raised the first thousand dollars in loan guarantees. Help spread the word to your friends and get this idea off and going.
Or join me in supporting Sakho Devi in Deoghar, India who has applied for a microloan to expand her small grocery shop with which she supports her three children. http://www.unitedprosperity.org/us/entrepreneur/2
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