World Vision, a global leader in microfinance and poverty reduction, is launching a new microlending site (worldvisionmicro.org) which connects online visitors to individual entrepreneurs in Mexico, Philippines, Rwanda and Kenya, whom they can support with microloans.
"We know providing microloans to poor entrepreneurs is an effective way to reduce poverty, particularly when combined with other kinds of support," World Vision president Richard Stearns said. "Americans can now learn the story of a hardworking entrepreneur, donate to provide their loan, and then follow their progress."
What makes Micro different?
Unlike some other sites where visitors lend their money to people in need, worldvisionmicro.org allows visitors to underwrite a microloan for their chosen entrepreneur as a tax-deductible donation. This means the donation recycles to provide more microloans in the same community. In addition, the majority of Micro's loans go to entrepreneurs living in areas where World Vision is addressing other development needs, such as clean water, health care, nutrition and education.
Tim Sawer, World Vision's executive director of the new site, says, "Each donation provides not only the microloan capital for an entrepreneur in need, but also builds on several other critical projects already happening in that same community--maybe an irrigation system, or vocational training for youth--that will help a family improve their lives long term."
World Vision currently provides small loans to some 620,000 borrowers in 41 countries through its subsidiary, VisionFund International. Since 1993, the organization has disbursed 3.5 million microloans totaling more than $1.8 billion.
WorldVisionMicro.org was alpha tested last fall and launched in beta phase this spring. Visitors can search for entrepreneurs by country, business type, gender, or loan size, and then view photos and information on the entrepreneur's business before making their donation. To ensure timely disbursement of capital to its qualifying entrepreneurs, World Vision pre-funds loans; a donation for a specific entrepreneur then backfills that same microloan.
The organization has achieved a 96.7% rate of repayment for its current portfolio of $346 million in microloans, along with providing training and support services to enable its clients to succeed.
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