Zidisha Forges a Path in Microfinance Industry
Monday, October 11, 2010
In the ever-growing universe of microfinance lenders, Julia Kurnia, the 26-year-old founder of peer-to-peer lending Web site Zidisha.org, believes she has found a niche. The Sterling resident has zeroed in on educated entrepreneurs in developing countries. Since Zidisha, which means “to grow” in Swahili, went live in January 2009, Kurnia has facilitated more than $16,600 in loans from 80 lenders for 30 low-income start-ups in Kenya and Senegal, while maintaining a 100 percent repayment rate.
The fledgling success is as much a credit to Kurnia’s strategy as it is to the growing microfinance industry. Designed by Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus in Bangladesh in 1983, the model of providing small loans to impoverished populations has gained ground. Web-based organizations, such as Kiva, Microplace and Prosper, have in recent years thrust the industry to the forefront — and inspired individuals such as Kurnia to try their hand at banking.