Hey, Kiva.org is the big microfinance group in the US, helping out a lot of people throughout the world.
Kiva's mission is to "connect people, through lending, for the sake of
alleviating poverty." We of course recognize that poverty is relative,
and the poverty experienced by some of the entrepreneurs in Uganda or
El Salvador is not at all shared by some entrepreneurs in the United
States. It is usually the case, however, that they lack access to
financial services from the formal financial sector in their country.
Whether, due to lack of collateral, illiteracy, ethnic or gender
discrimination, or due to lack of credit history, or an economic
downturn, our Field Partners target entrepreneurs that are denied
access to credit elsewhere.
The Field Partners we are working
with in the U.S. target low-income entrepreneurs who are often
marginalized from the formal credit markets in the U.S. That said, the
U.S. entrepreneurs posted to the site represent a spectrum in terms of
income level and degree of marginalization. We realize that while some
may appear to need the loan, others may not appear to need the loan as
much. From the Internet, it is impossible to make perfect judgments.
This introduces a degree of controversy as our users debate on the site
who really needs the loan and who doesn't. These are debates we are