Kiva fellows connect online lenders with borrowers

Nick Sabin interviews a client of Salone Microfinance Trust, one of Kiva’s field partners in Sierra Leone, as part of his Kiva fellowship in mid-2008. Photo by: Kiva

Ester is the poster child for how microfinance can grow small businesses. A mother of three and owner of a small farm in central Kenya, she raises dairy cows, grows vegetables and makes cement water pipes with a handful of employees. Many of her businesses were funded by loans from people she has never met, through a Web site called

Kiva is a nonprofit based in San Francisco that allows individual lenders from all over the world to make zero-percent interest loans of as little as $25 to micro-entrepreneurs in the developing world. In return, lenders are repaid on a monthly basis, and receive at least one journal update on how their contribution has impacted the loan recipient. To date, the Kiva community has raised more than $75 million in funds from 500,000 unique lenders with only about a 2 percent default rate.

About the author

  • Oliver Subasinghe

    Oliver joined Devex in late 2008 as an international development correspondent and researcher. He previously served as a microfinance fellow for Kiva in Kenya and Uganda. During his tenure, he worked with Kiva’s field partners to improve their operations and governance. Oliver holds a master's in business from the College of William & Mary.