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Websites for changing the world (featuring Kiva.org), March 2011

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[ English subtitles are about to begin... ] Hello everyone and welcome to Plein Ecran. If you ask a manager of a start-up or one of the giants of Silicon Valley what is his dream in life, he will often say that he wants to "change the world". It's true... smart phones, information technology, and social networks have changed our everyday lives in the West. Yet, in addition, there are also the start-ups, for which changing the world is not just a rather abstract goal. Those start-ups are what Plein Ecran has concentrated on this week. This is a story about a website which handles hundreds of millions of dollars but which makes no profits at all. And it has no intention of doing so. Welcome to Kiva.org. All the signs of a start-up are present. But we are really in the midst of a charitable organization. The mission of the Kiva site is to bring together not only donations, but loans from Internet users to finance through micro-lending the projects of small-scale entrepreneurs around the world. "You know the adage: If you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. Teach him to fish, and he will eat for the rest of his life. In the world of micro-lending, we often say that the poor already know how to fish. But what they need is a little money to buy a net and a boat. In fact, we want to show the world that the poor don't need our pity. They need to be treated as equals... ...and for us to work with them... ...and invest in their initiatives." It's a simple principle: You lend as much as you want, starting with $25. You choose the entrepreneur and the project that you believe in. And Kiva takes care of the rest. With local partners, over a hundred micro-lending organizations in 55 countries, the dollars are transformed into a multitude of currencies to make loans of a year in length, rarely longer. Once repaid, your money can be returned to you or be turned around to supply the pathways of micro-lending. In all, since its creation five years ago, Kiva has lent in this manner over $180 million. And behind each loan, there is a story. "One of my favorite success stories is of an entrepreneur named Yenku. In 1998, during the civil war in Sierra Leone, his hands were cut off by rebels. One of our local counterparts discovered Yenku and offered to help. He borrowed the equivalent of $100. This enabled him to start a street vendor business. He sold cookies, soap.... After a few years, by reinvesting his profits, he was able to open a small grocery store. He even sells clothing now." On average, awarded loans amount to $650 for buying basic supplies and equipment to expand a store's inventory, or to buy a cow for selling milk. Today, Kiva is everywhere... ...or nearly so. Some large countries, such as India, China, or Brazil have yet to enlist... ... a problem with local regulations affecting loans from abroad. More surprisingly, micro-loans are now in some big countries, such as the U.S. "Two years ago, we launched micro-lending in the U.S. And there, we saw people in Nairobi, Kenya, lending money to New Yorkers. Now, the line between rich countries and poor countries is fuzzier. A community of people working for a living are helping others working for living elsewhere in the world." Kiva is financed by donations from Internet users and by the support of private foundations. But its main driving force is really the community of lenders for whom the site has opened the door to micro-lending. The remaining weapon for massive mobilization: Social networks, of course. "In large part, my team has a Kiva presence on FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter.... We employ our presence very strategically, allowing us to be connected with a wide community around the stories of entrepreneurs What brings people together around Kiva are these stories and the ability to be a part of it in a direct way." Out of the social networks for mobilizing one's friends around a good cause, some people have become specialists. We'll come back to this after the news.

Video Details

Duration: 4 minutes and 42 seconds
Year: 2011
Country: France
Language: French (France)
License: All rights reserved
Views: 115
Posted by: sidetrips on Mar 13, 2011

Kiva.org is changing the world through micro-loans. Plein Ecran of TFI interviews Premal Shah and Chelsa Bocci.

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