Kiva pilots student micro-lending

Kiva pilots student micro-lending

Online person-to-person micro-lending outfit Kiva is piloting a student loans feature designed to help people in developing countries raise money for their education.

Launched in 2005, Kiva initially aimed to facilitate microloans from people in the US to entrepreneurs and small businesses in the developing world but has since also opened up to credit crunch-hit American borrowers.

Now, in what Kiva calls a natural extension of its "mission to connect people, through lending, to alleviate poverty" the site lets people lend as little as $25 to students in Paraguay, Bolivia and Lebanon for their education. The firm works with field partners in the three countries to tailor the loans.

By helping recipients to gain knowledge and skills, Kiva hopes the loans will leave them better positioned to find jobs, support their families and grow their communities.

The site currently has 40 student loans listed, providing photos and biographies of those requesting money, how much they want, how much has been funded and how much has been repaid.

Premal Shah, president, Kiva, says: "We believe the internet community is in a unique position to share the risk of student lending in the developing world and if these students repay their loans - as we believe they will - it could be the very impetus needed to make education accessible for everyone around the world."

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