Some Kiva Users Not Happy With Loans Close to Home

Company's decision to start offering loans in New York and San Francisco draws critics

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Duncan Rawlinson
    Kiva's original mission was primarily to make capital from rich countries more available to poor countries, as this screenshot illustrates.

    Kiva, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that facilitates small loans between individuals online, is being accused of straying from its mission of encouraging entrepreneurs in the Thid World  by enabling loans closer to home.

    The company began working with partners in New York and the Bay Area so that users of the site could chip in towards loans for small businesses in the United States.

    A poll asking Kiva users if they support the move to offer loans to Americans has the plurality of respondents saying "yes," but those arguing against them raise interesting points in the comments:

    If Kiva would post entrepreneurs in the U.S. for whom loans might provide an opportunity to escape from real poverty, I might be okay with Kiva’s including the U.S. as one of its areas of concentration. The type of entrepreneurs included in the first U.S. group, however, even though some had moving stories, didn’t even approach the kind of people I’d once thought Kiva had been started to try to reach.

    A group calling themselves "Unhappy Kiva Lenders" argues that since entrepreneurs in the developed world have access to many more resources, receive larger loans and pay them back more slowly, the move betrays their original interest in and support of the site.

    "It no longer makes loans exclusively to countries where the needs are greatest, but adds countries where needs are least," the group said in a statement.

    As of writing, Kiva has not responded for a request to comment.

    Screenshot by Duncan Rawlinson.

    Jackson West wouldn't mind a microloan or three, but can't promise he'd ever be able to pay them back.