Kiva + PayPal: 10 Years of Small Loans and Big Impact

In our first issue, GOOD profiled an emerging nonprofit with a wild idea. A decade later, that little nonprofit has made nearly a billion dollar difference

“My jaw dropped—knowing it was utterly brilliant,” recalled Max Schorr, fellow co-founder of GOOD, of the first time he met with Jessica Jackley and her then-fledgling nonprofit Kiva. This was more than a decade ago, the fall of 2005. GOOD hadn’t technically launched yet, though we’d set our launch date in the months ahead. Kiva was in prototype stage as well. Both our organizations, along with a scattering of other aspiring and active social innovators, piled into a side room of the Net Impact conference held at Stanford to set up our tables and hawk our big ideas to whomever might pass by.

Microlending pioneer Kiva and it's founders profiled in the premier issue of GOOD in 2006.

At GOOD, we had a vision of using media to change culture, to change the way people thought about what it meant to do well or live well—we called it "giving a damn.” Kiva had a vision of using technology to change how we get people out of poverty—they called that microlending.

The Kiva founders, Matt Flannery and Jessica Jackley, saw the growth of a new kind of financial institution across the developing world that had figured out how to make very small loans to people who needed just a few hundred or few thousand dollars to change their prospects in life. These microfinance organizations were proving hugely successful and serving vast numbers of people that had never been reached by traditional banking. Meanwhile, Matt and Jessica were deep in the midst of the explosion of early peer-to-peer internet technologies coming out of their local Bay Area start-up scene. Connecting the two worlds, they came up with the idea for Kiva: Building on top of PayPal’s payment system, they’d make it possible for people anywhere to help fund loans to borrowers coming through microfinance organizations around the world.

[quote position="full" is_quote="true"]My jaw dropped—knowing it was utterly brilliant...[/quote]

Back in the side room of the Net Impact conference, Jessica enthusiastically delivered this big idea to Max (who was sitting in front of a makeshift carnival game he’d concocted to drum up subscribers to our coming magazine): “Jessica came up and when I tried to tell her about what we were doing at GOOD, she brushed it aside and told me what she was doing with Kiva,” remembered Schorr. “She had a tenacity that gets at the core of what this movement is all about—like anything and everything is possible.” This chance meeting led to a long friendship and collaboration between GOOD and Kiva. We profiled Kiva in the very first issue of the magazine in 2006, teamed up with them on on events, and even had them as core partner of our “Choose GOOD” campaign that let subscribers in our first two years choose a nonprofit to fund with their subscription money.

We’ve also watched and cheered proudly as Kiva has exploded in reach and impact over the years: As they reached more and more countries around the world (82 as of today)... As they moved into a direct, 0% interest lending for borrowers in cities across the U.S (15 partner cities today)... As they crossed the million-lender and borrower mark back in 2013... As they close in on the $1 Billion loaned mark today... The numbers alone have been incredible. The stories when you dig into them, are even more amazing.

[quote position="full" is_quote="false"]Over the past decade, Kiva has helped 1.2 million people lend $920 million dollars to 2.1 million borrowers in 82 countries.[/quote]

As GOOD hits our own 10-year anniversary now, it is incredibly special to be able to reflect on this shared history and help celebrate Kiva’s own decade long collaboration with PayPal—who’s been a critical technology partner to Kiva and quietly been providing fee-free processing to the organization since day one, allowing the whole thing to work at a scale it couldn’t otherwise. Through our division here at GOOD that teams up with companies and organizations to help build and advance their own social good efforts, we’ve been able to work alongside both PayPal and Kiva over the past few months to help tell this story of shared values have a proper celebration of everything that’s been accomplished together. It’s all kicking off now....

Over the next 10 days (10/1-10/10), we’re asking all GOOD readers and fans to join in and make a new loan through Kiva—maybe your first loan ever, maybe your first new one in a while—the first 10,000 people to do so will get a $25 Kiva credit to lend again, courtesy of PayPal’s Corporate Advised Fund.

We’ll also be posting a series of inspiring stories on GOOD that share more about the impact Kiva and PayPal have made together. We’d love you to share these and any you might have as well. #smallloansbigimpact

Let’s make the next decade even bigger and better than the last.

Click here to learn more and make your small loan with Kiva now.

Julian Meehan

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