Kiva 101: Life of a loan

As a new or frequent lender, there may be times when you’re confused about the process of Kiva loans.

Well, we have answers!

The life of a loan starts with the borrower’s application. Kiva loan applications are facilitated in two ways, by Field Partners (partner loans) and directly by Kiva (direct loans), that enable us to reach the greatest number of people around the world. For most loans outside the United States, borrowers apply to a local Field Partner, a local organization that manages the Kiva loan process. For entrepreneurs in the United States and for larger social enterprises, loan applications are submitted directly through the Kiva website.

How does the direct loan application process work? First, the borrower must apply online (after making sure they’re prequalified). This takes less than 30 minutes!

 

 

After the borrower applies, the loan goes through the underwriting and approval process. Partner loans are facilitated by local nonprofits or lending institutions, which approve the borrower’s loan request. Kiva does due diligence and ongoing monitoring for each of these Field Partners.

This is where we do things differently than so many other crowdfunding and microloan organizations.

At Kiva, we envision a world where someone’s creditworthiness is determined by the strength of their character rather than their credit history. Some of our borrowers have never received a loan before, meaning they don’t have a line of credit. But to us, lack of credit history doesn’t mean you’re not trustworthy. That’s why we’re working to re-insert human relationships into the financial system by using social underwriting to assess the creditworthiness of our borrowers.

Because of this, direct loans are approved through “social underwriting," where trustworthiness is determined by friends and family contributing a portion of the loan amount, or by a Kiva-approved Trustee who vouches for the borrower. The borrower invites friends and family to lend to them to prove creditworthiness.

Next comes the loan disbursal period. Disbursal refers to when the borrower can access the money— the timing of this can vary. For most Field Partner loans, the money is pre-disbursed, so the borrower can access the funds right away. For direct loans, the money is disbursed only after the loan has been fully crowdfunded on the Kiva website.

Then, the loan is posted on Kiva’s website for lenders to support. Depending on the type of loan, a Field Partner or borrower uploads the loan details into our system. Our incredible worldwide network of more than 400 volunteers then helps to edit and translate loans before they go live on the website for lenders to crowdfund. We wouldn’t be able to do it without them!

During the 30-day fundraising period, some of our 1.6+ million lenders crowdfund the loan in increments of $25 or more.

 

 

As the borrowers invest their loan into their businesses and see their profits grow, they’ll repay their loan based on the repayment schedule listed on their loan page. The repayments go directly into their lenders’ Kiva accounts.

All throughout this process, Kiva employees are working behind the scenes. Our engineering teams are constantly making sure our platform is running smoothly. Our strategic partnerships and marketing teams are always reaching out for new impactful partnerships, opportunities to support lenders, and ways to spread the word about Kiva.

Our impact investments team ensures the trustworthiness of hundreds of Field Partners and our product and design teams ensure that it’s as easy as possible to lend on our platform. Meanwhile, our executive leaders are in contact with organizations like the United Nations and other international political figures to initiate projects like our Refugee Fund and Kiva Protocol.

But let’s be honest — there are so many hardworking individuals in teams within Kiva that it’s impossible to name them all!

We’re so grateful that our lenders go beyond lending — because it’s the donations that keep Kiva running and allow more and more borrowers to earn their opportunity for financial inclusion.

 

Want more information about how the Kiva loan process works? Check out our step-by-step explanation!

Now it’s your time to shine again, Kiva lending community! Donations are what help Kiva employees, field partners, fellows and interns do the incredible work they do. Donate to Kiva today to support this impactful, global work.


About the author

Casey Miller

Casey Miller is the content and media coordinator at Kiva in the Portland offices. She began her journey with Kiva as a New Media and Branding intern in the summer of 2019 before continuing on as the content and media coordinator, now managing Kiva's social media accounts and the Kiva blog. Casey graduated from the University of Oregon with a B.A. in Journalism, and still uses this journalistic background in her storytelling at Kiva. With a passion for travel and cultural exchange, Casey seeks to spread the stories of our cultures and communities for those whose voices are often ignored.