Cisco Funds New Program to Enable Kiva to Expand Microloans for Entrepreneurs to More Arabic-Speaking Countries in the Middle East and North Africa


SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - January 25, 2011) - Meedan, a leading Arabic-English translation technology company announced today it is providing free Arabic translation for microloans on Kiva.org.
The move will help expand the reach of Kiva and its lenders directly into the heart of the Arabic-speaking world, extending a global community of micro-lenders to include thousands of Arabic-speaking aspiring entrepreneurs. Under the program funded by Cisco, Meedan will provide expert translation and strategic guidance to Kiva.

"Meedan is focused on using technologies to improve cross-cultural tolerance, understanding and citizen's diplomacy between Arabic and English speaking communities. We are honored to be working with Kiva, the world's leading micro-lending website, to accelerate their reach into the Arabic-speaking world," said Ed Bice, Founder and CEO of Meedan. "There are 330 million Arabic speakers under the age of 20, so there's a clear need to create millions of new jobs. This collaboration with Kiva helps address a critical need in the region."

Under the 12 month program, Meedan and Kiva are making modifications to Kiva.org to support languages that are written from right-to-left, such as Arabic. In addition, Kiva's local Field Partners in Arabic-speaking countries will now be able to more easily reach Kiva lenders around the world with the support of translation services provided by Meedan. Kiva partners with local microfinance institutions throughout the world to identify qualified local entrepreneurs and provide on-the-ground services tailored to local needs. The services of these Field Partners are critical to creating connections that help bring important support to the region.

"Kiva's mission is to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty," said Premal Shah, President of Kiva.org. "With the support of Cisco and Meedan, Kiva can now reach many more entrepreneurs in the Arabic-speaking world. It is our hope that micro-lending in the region will help enable individuals to identify their own path out of poverty, bringing great hope through the promise of opportunity."

"This program will enable Kiva to expand its proven model to Arabic-speaking countries, and help micro-entrepreneurs access financing," said Charu Adesnik, Cisco public benefit investment manager. "Providing micro-entrepreneurs with access to the financing they need to start, sustain, and expand their businesses, will put them on a path to sustained economic self sufficiency."

In the first week of the program, Kiva posted and fully funded eight Arabic loans, including entrepreneurs from Lebanon and Iraq working in a diverse variety of businesses -- from hairdressing, tiling and transport to sales, fishing and tailoring. Kiva lenders have enthusiastically embraced these loans. The first Arabic loan to come onto the site was fully funded within 12 hours of being posted to Kiva.org.

About Meedan

Meedan was founded in 2005 and incorporated as a nonprofit charitable organization in 2006. We have been working since 2005 on technologies and programs to improve cross-cultural tolerance, understanding and citizen's diplomacy between web users in the United States and the Middle East. Meedan is headquartered in San Francisco.

About Kiva.org

Kiva.org is the world's first personal micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. Founded in 2005, Kiva.org's mission is to connect people, through lending, to alleviate poverty. Over 545,000 people have loaned more than $188 million to 488,000 entrepreneurs in 58 countries. Kiva.org is headquartered in San Francisco.