"We are the only providers of P2P [peer-to-peer] microfinance lending. We raise donations for administrative costs offline, so every dollar loaned goes directly to end recipients."

Kiva means unity and agreement in Swahili. Kiva is also the name of Jessica Jackley's ’00 unique online lending enterprise.

"Kiva enables people to make loans of as little as $25 directly to small businesses in the developing world and then maintain one-to-one contact online with the entrepreneurs who receive the loans.  At the end of the loan term, lenders are reimbursed," says Flannery.  Listen to NPR's All Things Considered report on Kiva.

Working in partnership with existing microfinance organizations that provide financial services to the very poor, Kiva puts lenders in touch with aspiring small business entrepreneurs in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, and the company plans to expand globally.

"We are the only providers of P2P [peer-to-peer] microfinance lending," she says. "We raise donations for administrative costs offline, so every dollar loaned goes directly to end recipients."

Flannery has a long history of involvement with international development. During high school, she volunteered in Haiti, and her perspective on the global economy forever changed.

Later, she interned with World Vision, a Christian relief and development organization, where she internalized a model for connecting donors and recipients one-on-one. "I had a stack of profiles on my desk each morning, from children all over the world awaiting sponsors," she says. "My heart broke every day."

During her junior year at Bucknell, studying abroad with Semester at Sea, she says she saw "the many dimensions of global poverty."

After graduating from Bucknell, Jackley moved to California, where Matthew was pursuing graduate studies at Stanford University. While attending a talk at Stanford two years later, she met Mohammed Yunus, a founding father of microfinance and creator of the Grameen Bank, a nonprofit organization that helps the poor break through poverty by starting their own businesses.

Then and there, she became convinced of the power of providing loans to the world’s hard-working poor. Soon thereafter, she began her work with Village Enterprise Fund, another international development organization, on the ground in East Africa.

A year of research followed.

After a successful beta run in March 2005, Kiva was formally launched in October. Since then, the website, www.kiva.org, has received thousands of hits from lenders wishing to make the personal connection that, so far, only Jackley's vision has been able to provide.

Jackley is an MBA candidate at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where she continues to explore how business principles can address global poverty.

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