A Powerful Way To Help Your Fellow Entrepreneur On The Other Side Of The Planet

By now you’ve likely heard of microfinance, and the idea behind it — lending a small amount of money to support a person in the developing world create or enhance a business, and they pay back the money on very palatable terms. A small amount goes a long way, coupled with the ingenuity born of necessity. Sound familiar, entrepreneurs? It sounds like a fine idea, but you haven’t gone there yet. What’s stopping you? Perhaps it still somehow sounds like charity.

Do yourself a favor, and go watch the introductory video on the new KivaB4B site, which makes the most clear, compelling connection between entrepreneurs like yourself, and people in the countries that microfinance serves. It shows, side by side, the similar needs and activities we all have as entrepreneurs — a little boost, a bit of advice, and a lot of encouragement and community.

Kiva B4B microfinanceIn a powerful synergy, Kiva, one of the top players in this realm, has partnered with Advanta, a credit issuer that is highly supportive of small businesses, to create KivaB4B. It’s simple really: You as a business owner put money towards someone via Kiva, and Advanta matches it, dollar for dollar, up to $200 a month. This may sound small, but think about it this way: If only 1% of Advanta’s 1.3 million customers put even $50 towards this, that would mean $1.3 million going to these people. Dollars that go a lot farther then they do here, making for a potentially significant positive impact for people just like yourself, really.

You were once (or perhaps you still are) getting started in business, and for many of you, there was some break, some nudge, some sign that you were going to go further than just an idea, just another company failing after a year. KivaB4B now provides you with a simple, no maintenance way to do the same, for the person of your choice, at as little or as much money as you care to put towards this. Not all corporate social responsibility efforts need to be grandiose. Sometimes it’s the smallest of gestures that can have the greatest of impact. And satisfaction.

To see specific examples of who’s giving and who’s receiving, go the the KivaB4B website, and click the Who’s Giving link. You may just recognize yourself in these people. To learn more about KivaB4B, and other happenings in the world of microfinance (or to write about it yourself!) KivaB4B has a community blog here.

Readers: What sort of businesses would you like to support through microfinance? What are some other examples of microfinance and social enterprise development you’ve seen and admire? What are some other models of creating economic and social vitality that exist or your propose?

Additional resources:

Kiva.org – Loans That Change Lives

Another Eco Child’s Play Kiva Loan

Alternative Gifting = Lending and Microloans

Idea Blob: An Infectious Way To Fund Your Green Business

Image courtesy KivaB4B.org

About the Author

Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio School of Management in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations around, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media. Who he has and wants to work with includes consumer, media, clean tech, NGOs, social ventures, and museums. For more on GreenSmith Consulting, see www.greensmithconsulting.com He also writes for Triple Pundit www.triplepundit.com
  • Rachel M.

    Besides partnering with Advanta, are there other substantive differences between Kiva and KivaB4B? I’m curious to what extent the difference is in the product vs. the targeting. Thanks for the great post!

  • I think it’s a mixture of both. Doubling your loan amount is one clear difference.

    Repackaging this to directly appeal to and make sense for entrepreneurs to participate in this is probably going to generate much more funds reaching these people than might have otherwise by Kiva’s current efforts and market they reach. Though I imagine small, values based business owners will have already been attracted to doing this. This now more distinctly makes the case of how similar we are as entrepreneurs, and that it’s not just a nice gesture, it’s a way of supporting a hard working individual or business like yourself, returning the favor you once got.

  • I was recently at a microfinance conference that Kiva presented at it is amazing. One of the things that is interesting is that KIVA does not target just the biggest Microfinance institutions, they also target the smaller and less popular ones. Large Microfinance institutions (MFI) have an EASY time of getting loans, give targets the small organizations and gives them a chance to improve their ratings so these small MFI can move up their ratings and get larger loans from big banks like Citibank.

    One thing that is also powerful about KIVA is that it is interest free. A no interest loan is almost unheard of, so MFI flock to KIVA because of this. This also gives the small MFI a chance to get larger and the MFI can take on loans that have interest.

    It is truly a powerful tool

  • What a great idea. I already have a kiva lender page for my business. It would be great to be able to sign up for the B4B program without getting yet another credit card. Also the contact info on their site is just a credit card sales line or a postal address – no email or contact form. It’s hard to know what the next step for me participating in the program is.

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