Follow the Money: The IT Hurdles of Microlending
When the crowdfunding non-profit Kiva.org launched a pilot in 2014 to streamline their transactions in Kenya, they met local shop owners like Esther, who was running a stall called “Facebook Cereals.” Kenya had suffered political unrest in recent years, and Esther had to restart her business in the Toi Market of Nairobi twice. But she kept her smile.
“When you go to Facebook, you get everything. You get friends and you find a mix of everything. Similarly, in my cereal shop you get everything, all mix of cereals: rice, wheat, maize, cassava, millet, beans, etc. And they are all connected,” she explained.
Kiva’s mission is to support economic opportunity for people like Esther by crowdfunding microloans. The object of the Kenya pilot was to deploy a platform for interacting with mobile payment systems, remove extraneous digital intermediaries and learn what was needed to scale operations across the country.
Rather than counting on funds to trickle top-down, from a government or a large NGO to small businesses, Kiva facilitates transactions between individual lenders and borrowers that help build developing economies from the ground up.