What is microfinance?

Microfinance is a term used to describe financial services, such as loans, savings, insurance and fund transfers to entrepreneurs, small businesses and individuals who lack access to traditional banking services.

Dr. Mohammad Yunus is considered a pioneer of modern microfinance. He experimented with making small loans, which he funded himself, to women in Bangladesh making bamboo furniture who had previously relied on loans with unfair and predatory terms to purchase raw materials. He discovered these very tiny loans, which traditional banks did not want to make due to the perceived risks and costs, could make a disproportionate difference to a poor person and given the chance they would pay them back creating a viable business model. He would go on to found Grameen Bank in 1983 and win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.

Inspired by the work of Dr. Yunus, Kiva was founded in 2005 with a mission to expand financial access to help underserved communities thrive. By leveraging the internet and crowdfunding, Kiva allows anyone, for as little as $25, to help a borrower start or grow a business, go to school, access clean energy or realize their potential.

Over the past 10 years Kiva has enabled more than 1.5 million people to fund over 2 million borrowers in over 80 countries. The result has been more than $1 billion dollars lent to borrowers and repaid at a rate greater than 97%.

If you’re interested in participating in microfinance we recommend learning more about Kiva, how lending works and then getting started by making a loan.

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