New York Times: Web-Based Microfinancing
The idea of microfinancing — small-scale loans to the entrepreneurial-minded poor — reached the front page this fall when the Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace Prize. But now the San Francisco-based nonprofit Kiva.org may have taken the idea a step further: with just a few clicks of the mouse, most everyone can become a microfinancier. At Kiva.org, a schoolteacher in Kansas can partner with an expert seamstress in countries like Kenya, Mexico and Ecuador to jump-start a tailor shop....
When I was in Grad School at Eastern Univ. twenty years ago, two of my classmates (Brian and Joan Lennon ) had a vision for doing essentially what Kiva does (linking individuals to developing world microenterprises) but that was pre-internet. The logistics proved to be too impractical. I was always captivated by this vision. I began looking around early last year to see if anyone had pursued this idea. Then I found Kiva which had emerged four months earlier.
Recently, surfing Jessica Flannery’s site (Kiva co-founder with her husband Matt), I found this comment:
“I basically talked to anybody that would give me the time of day over the next year, and found a wonderful mentor and friend and encourager in Brian Lennon, the head of Village Enterprise Fund.”