More than $130 million in loans  averaging $393 cover 196 nations

[caption id="attachment_20940" align="alignright" width="288" caption="Jessica Jackley and Dr. William Silver, dean of the School of Business and Economics at SS "][/caption]

ROHNERT PARK – Jessica Jackley, co-founder of Kiva, a person-to-person microlending website that enables prospective lenders to view profiles of specific people in need of a loan, spoke last week to an audience of students and business professionals at Sonoma State University.

She talked about Kiva (kiva.org) and how microfinancing works.

A person can create a profile and explain what they need the loan for, and lenders can look to see if they want to make a loan. When enough people have put down the money to fund the entire loan, it goes to the person.

“Then you can track how the person is doing and how they are paying it back,” said Ms. Jackley, who is based in Los Angeles.

Since its founding as a nonprofit in 2005, more than $130 million has been loaned out through Kiva.

After studying about globalization in a course in the Hutchins Program at SSU, Amihan Makayan decided for her senior project she would participate in a microlending program in order to help bring opportunity to entrepreneurs worldwide.

Ms. Makayan is from the Philippines, and while her family didn’t have a lot, she saw her grandmother, who was an entrepreneur, build something from nothing.

“I think the opportunity for people born poor is small,” she said.

She feels that giving people a small capital infusion can get them to a place where they can take care of themselves.

With microlending, she said, “You are helping, but you are providing them with the tools to make their lives better. It is not just a handout. I give to charities as well, but the two meet different needs.”

Microlending programs have been around for years. According to the World Bank, there are more than 7,000 microfinance institutions serving $2.5 billion in loans to 16 million poor people in developing countries.

Ms. Jackley studied philosophy and literature because she wanted to help people.

“You don’t study business to help people, I thought,” said Ms. Jackley.

She ended up working at the Stanford Center for Social Innovation where she realized she could help people through business.

Microfinancing has helped women in particular. If a woman is taking care of her family and has to sew, a microloan may enable her to rent or buy a sewing machine so she can, in the same amount of time, create clothing and sell it to be financially independent.

“That is why I love this,” Ms. Jackely said, “the empowerment it gives people.”

Total value of all loans made through Kiva: $134,031,285

Number of Kiva users: 705,495

Number of Kiva users who have funded a loan: 448,949

Number of countries represented by Kiva lenders: 196

Number of entrepreneurs that have received a loan through Kiva: 340,863

Number of loans that have been funded through Kiva: 186,771

Percentage of Kiva loans that have been made to women entrepreneurs: 82 percent

Number of Kiva field partners (microfinance institutions Kiva partners with): 112

Number of countries Kiva field partners are located in: 52

Current repayment rate (all partners): 98.57 percent

Average loan size: $393.54

Average total amount loaned per Kiva lender (includes reloaned funds): $190.31

Average number of loans per Kiva lender: 5.55

Today Kiva facilitates more than $1 million each week from lenders to entrepreneurs across more than 185 countries.

“If we can make these kinds of changes with microfinance,” Ms. Jackley said, “imagine what we can do if we are just willing to step up and make a change.”