Everyday People Worldwide Can Provide Microloans to Young Arab Entrepreneurs for a Sustainable Future

March 8, 2012 -- Against the backdrop of a rapidly changing Arab world fuelled by young people’s demand for jobs and economic opportunity, Kiva and Silatech have partnered to offer an innovative approach for funding thousands of young Arab entrepreneurs. Kiva, the world’s largest online microlending platform, has partnered with Silatech, a Qatar-based social initiative, to launch Kiva Arab Youth. The campaign allows visitors to www.kiva.org/arabyouth to make online loans of as little as $25 to young Arabs of their choice.  To double the campaign’s impact, Silatech is matching up to $125,000 of loans made by Kiva lenders. Microenterprise initiatives by Silatech have supported thousands of young Arab entrepreneurs ages 18 to 30, creating more than 30,000 jobs in the process.

“Charity has traditionally played a large role in the social fabric of Arab societies,” said Ramakant Vempati, Senior Advisor, Strategy, in Silatech’s Microenterprise Unit. “Through Silatech’s partnership with Kiva we are offering new, innovative and technology-enabled ways to direct that sense of social responsibility toward young Arabs struggling to build a sustainable future.”

“Kiva provides opportunities for everyday people to lend their support to Arab youth, and contribute to a larger vision of an Arab world where everyone has the financial resources they need to truly succeed,” said Premal Shah, President of Kiva.  “Kiva’s partnership with Silatech doubles the impact of your loan and enables a vibrant, ambitious and hopeful generation of Arab youth to participate in our global economy.”

More than 100 million young people between the ages of 15 and 29 now represent 30% of the Arab world’s total population. With two-thirds of its population under the age of 24, the region faces an unprecedented “youth bulge.” The Arab world already has the highest rate of youth unemployment, and current projections predict that job creation will not keep pace with the growing number talented Arab youth anxious to participate in the global economy. Supporting the ever-growing entrepreneurial spirit amongst this young population is one of the surest solutions to brightening the region’s economic future. Silatech was established in 2008 to help respond to the scale and urgency of this challenge.

Kiva Arab Youth enables anyone with $25 and a computer to make a loan to a budding young Arab entrepreneur.  Invite your family and friends to support as well, and you can create a lending team on kiva.org/arabyouth to combine your efforts and impact. 

There are other ways to provide your support as well.  Leaders in their communities or organizations can come together to promote the campaign through their networks. Corporations and social investors can contribute along with Silatech toward boosting their loan matching funds, encouraging more individuals to lend.

“Millions of young Arabs are trying to make a living on their own, despite often difficult conditions and low incomes,” said Dr. Tarik Yousef, Chief Executive Officer at Silatech. “Far too many of these microentrepreneurs lack reliable affordable capital, preventing them from building a sustainable business. Silatech’s microfinance loan programs are a way of addressing this shortfall and our partnership with Kiva provides a proven platform that gives individuals an opportunity to help aspiring young microentrepreneurs.”

Kiva Arab Youth provides lending opportunities in support of young entrepreneurs in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and other regions of the Arab world through Kiva’s current network of microfinance partnerships. Throughout 2012, Kiva and Silatech are identifying additional local and regional microfinance partners that can join Kiva’s network and expand the range of opportunities available to youth in the Arab world.

About Kiva
Kiva is a non-profit organization working to alleviate poverty by connecting people around the world through microlending. With as little as a $25 loan, anyone can help a borrower create new opportunities for themselves and their family . Together with more than 700,000 Kiva lenders and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva has created economic opportunity for more than 730,000 borrowers. Since its inception in 2005, Kiva lenders have funded more than $280 million in loans with a 98.9% repayment rate.  Kiva is headquartered in San Francisco. www.kiva.org

About Silatech
Silatech is a social initiative that promotes large-scale job creation, entrepreneurship, skills development and access capital and markets for Arab youth ages 18 to 30. Silatech has introduced a holistic model for youth microenterprise in the Arab region which has now been adopted by a broad range of microfinance institutions, public banks and youth serving organizations in six countries. Silatech was founded in January 2008 by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser with broad support from other regional and international leaders. www.silatech.com

Media Contacts:
Heba Abd-ellatif, Silatech
Jason Riggs, Kiva
+1.415.857.8668, jason@kiva.org