Credit Crunch Hitting Home? Microloans to the Rescue

High-tech lending site Kiva now offers bite-sized loans to American businesses

By Jackson West
|  Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009  |  Updated 3:00 PM PDT
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Credit Crunch Hitting Home? Microloans to the Rescue

Mike Osswald

Founder Premal Shah explains Kiva at the Web 2.0 Expo in 2007.

Once limited to impoverished third-worlders starting the smallest of ventures, San Francisco-based lending site Kiva is now offering credit closer to home.

In a sign of the changing economic climate, Americans can now take advantage of off-shore debt in order to finance their expansion -- just like the federal government!

"Everyone needs a hand up, not a handout -- this way just like someone in Manhattan can make a loan to someone in Nairobi, now someone from Nigeria can make a loan to someone in Queens," Kiva spokesperson Fiona Ramsey told the San Francisco Chronicle. (Ramsey may not have picked the best example, since Nigerian criminal gangs already flood inboxes with spams offering free money.)

Already, 36 businesses qualified for loans of up to $10,000, distributed through local partners like San Jose's Opportunity Fund and New York's AccionUSA.

Individuals looking to help can loan as little as $25. The loans are almost always repaid, and as nonprofits, the lending organizations don't charge interest.

So now wealthy patrons can good about helping others, while expecting to get their money back -- no altruism required.

Photo by Mike Osswald.

Jackson West figures this is yet another sign of the "Brazilianization" of the American economy.

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