In the 1970’s, Nobel Prize winning economist Dr. Muhammad Yunus set out to find a way to provide bank loans to those entrepreneurs who were “too poor” for traditional bank loans.
During visits to the poorest households in the village of Jobra near Chittagong University, Bangladesh, Yunus discovered through his own lending, even very small loans could make a disproportionate difference to a poor person – and so microlending was born.
Microlending, in a nutshell, is the lending of very small amounts. These loans on their own do not amount to much, but when combined with many lenders, they make a huge impact. For example, fifty people can each lend $50.00 to finance a much larger $2500.00 loan.
Watch Dr. Muhammad Yunus explain what it means to microlend during a Rotary International speech:
“Money goes, but it never comes back,” says Yunus when comparing philanthropy to microlending; providing a great example of how microlending is more sustainable than its philanthropic counterpart.
Why are we interested in the concept of microlending? It allows our team at Iridia to do so much more with less!
In September last year, Iridia jumped into the fast moving river of microlending through Kiva.org. We saw an opportunity to give even more to those who are less fortunate.
Instead of sending a one-time donation to an individual in need, we are able to send out many loans using the same initial funds. When one loan begins to be repaid, we finance another.
To get the whole team involved, each month, one of our staff members is chosen to pick the next loan of his/her choice.
So far, microlending through Kiva has allowed us to help eight individuals around the world, from Peru to Rwanda.
Take a look at our Kiva Portfolio for a detailed view of our microlending activity: