Green

Micro-lending site Kiva goes green

Kiva, a site that enables person-to-person loans, has just added a new category of green loans to help borrowers move to cleaner and safer forms of energy, green agriculture, transport and recycling. Loans made through Kiva generally go to individuals or entrepreneurs in the developing world, but some do go to people in the U.S.

With the new green loans, 66-year-old Concepción (pictured), a farmer in Tarma, Peru, got a 12-month $550 loan to buy natural fertilizers. The amount of the loans vary, but individual lenders can contribute from $25 up.

More than 500,000 entrepreneurs have received loans via Kiva, and the company has an impressive repayment rate of 98.71 percent. 81.38 percent of loans are made to female entrepreneurs.

The secret of Kiva’s success seems to be the personal nature of the loans and the fact that individual lenders feel they can make a difference even when contributing small amounts. Kiva works with micro-finance groups worldwide who know their local communities and manage relationships with borrowers.

Last year Kiva received a $5 million grant from impact investment fund the Omidyar Network. The grant will match up to $2 million in loans transacted on the site during 2010 and 2011. The Omidyar Network was started by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, and it funds startups and projects that can bring about positive social or environmental change.

Kiva was founded in 2005 and is based in San Francisco.