Tagsocial enterprise

P2P lending org Kiva’s background and future

Excellent read for those interested in social entrepreneurship: Kiva co-founder Matt Flannery discusses the first three years of Kiva and the pioneering of the person-to-person lending field in an in-depth article from new MIT journal Innovations.

What makes this case study interesting is not just that it is penned by the entrepreneur himself, but that many of the issues raised are still very much alive. See the transcript of VC firm Union Street Ventures’ recent event, “Hacking Philanthropy,” for a long discussion of Kiva’s challenges in vetting non-accredited or lower-tier microfinance organizations in the developing world. The transcript is in need of a good copy-edit but the content is solid:

MR. SHAH [Premal Shah, president of Kiva]: We have a growth risk. So we could [lend to all] our NGOs, the existing 70
NGOs. We haven’t vetted all of them fully.
We haven’t randomly sampled, audited. That
takes time and money. And from where we
started from, to actually get that done. So
we’ve actually limited them to how much they
can post each month. But we can raise those
limits to say buyer beware. Craigslist,
Internet community. The problem is that
there’s an information problem right now.
So, I mean, I’d love to hear
either privately or in this forum ways that
we can break that constraint of letting our
lenders make more informed choices. So this
NGO is less vetted. This entrepeneur might
not repay us. And how we get that
information flow from the developing world.
We’ve been racking our brains. And it’s
difficult.

Unintended consequences: donated mosquito net edition

Ethan Zuckerman points to a Zambian blogger claiming donated mosquito nets are used by fishermen for destructive drag-netting in rivers and streams. A bit of googling turns up similar stories in Namibia and Rwanda. I wonder if these are marginal cases or if the practice is truly widespread, and if people who pay for mosquito nets are less likely to use them in this way.

© 2017 chris coldewey

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