To date, Kiva has mobilized philanthropic lenders on their crowdfunding platform to provide $13M to over 15,000 refugee entrepreneurs, demonstrating the viability of lending to displaced populations. This is just the beginning for Kiva. The Kiva Refugee Investment Fund (“KRIF”) will seek to scale refugee microfinance around the world by investing in proven refugee lending programs. The KRIF aims to reach over 200,000 borrowers while targeting impact-first returns for institutional investors.
While refugees seek access to financial services, they are traditionally underserved by banks and other financial institutions because they are perceived as too risky. In 2016, Kiva began mobilizing its risk tolerant crowdfunded capital to help local microfinance institutions overcome this obstacle and begin piloting refugee lending. The data Kiva has collected since, which can be found on their Refugee Impact Site, illustrates that refugees can and do repay their loans. Repayment rates on the Kiva crowdfunding platform are over 95%, which is similar to that of non-refugee microfinance clients. These findings served as an important proof of concept for Kiva as well as numerous of their local microfinance partners on the ground, who are now ready to grow their lending to displaced populations. The KRIF will expand Kiva’s efforts beyond the crowdfunding platform by working with institutional investors to provide much needed capital to continue to scale refugee lending.
Potential refugee impact
Immediate humanitarian aid is critical for refugee communities, but economic opportunity enables longer-term stability. The KRIF will aim to provide much needed capital to help refugees start small businesses or pay for other urgent expenses as they work to rebuild their lives. In addition to displaced populations, the fund will look to serve impacted host communities in the Middle East as well catalyze economic development in rural areas prone to migration in Central America.
Kiva is an international nonprofit, founded in 2005 in San Francisco, with a mission to expand financial access to help underserved communities thrive. As a crowdfunding platform, Kiva allows individuals to lend as little as $25 to make a difference in someone’s life. The KRIF will be managed by Kiva Capital Management, a newly-launched subsidiary of Kiva, and limited to qualified investors. Kiva is committed to democratizing impact investing and will also look to explore bringing retail-friendly structures to market.