November 13, 2007 09:00 ET Gift Certificates Pay It Forward... and Back Again

The World's First Person-to-Person Microlending Website Offers a Gift Idea That Starts a Positive Cycle of Change for Entrepreneurs in Developing Countries

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - November 13, 2007) - This year, give someone the opportunity to truly change the life of a person living in poverty in the developing world., the world's first microlending website, lets individuals purchase gift certificates for friends and family, allowing them to make a loan directly to a developing world entrepreneur.

"A gift certificate is much more than a gift -- it's the start of a very positive cycle of loaning to a deserving entrepreneur, getting paid back and loaning again," said Matt Flannery, CEO and Co-Founder of "We have seen so many lives changed by what we might consider a tiny loan in this country." President Clinton, who features in his new book, "Giving," said, "Through, people around the world can become micro-bankers to developing world entrepreneurs, who have their own ideas, so we can give them a chance to raise their kids with dignity, send their kids to school, and in troubled places like Afghanistan we can marginally increase the chance that peace can prevail, because people will see there is a positive alternative to conflict."

How it works gift certificates are easily purchased on in multiples of $25. Once received, the gift recipients go to, redeem their gift online and then choose an entrepreneur to lend to, such as Damaso Clares of Bolivia, who needs $600 to buy a dairy cow, or Judith Mumbo of Kenya who needs $175 to purchase a machine for her candle-making business. Lenders then choose the amount they would like to contribute to the loan, starting at $25. Throughout the course of the loan (typically 12 months) lenders receive email updates on repayments made and the progress of the business. When the loan is repaid, the funds are returned in full to the lenders -- the ultimate recycling of money!

Why Lend

Kiva Lenders are attracted to the personal connection they feel with the entrepreneur whose business they have invested in, and the feeling of mutual respect and dignity encouraged through lending rather than donating. Ann, a lender from Seattle, said: "This was my opportunity to invest in someone else's dream. It's rewarding to know that you don't have to give much to make a huge difference in someone's life."

Lenders even find themselves "addicted" to the website, watching their portfolio of investments grow as loans are repaid, reloaned and new loans added. Kiva Lender Steve, of Illinois, compares his Kiva portfolio to his personal banking investment portfolio: "Conventional investment wisdom is to have a diversified portfolio of investments; this was the first time I considered emotional rewards as something I could expect besides the occasional dividend. It certainly is habit-forming." More testimonials can be found on the website.

Since its launch in Q4 2005, more than $14 million has been loaned by 140,000 Kiva Lenders to 22,000 entrepreneurs in 37 countries through The organization has been covered by "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "The Today Show," The New York Times, PBS, ABC World News, CNN, Time, BusinessWeek, and the BBC, among others.

About ( is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to an entrepreneur in the developing world. Founded in 2004 by Matt and Jessica Flannery,'s mission is to connect people, through lending, to alleviate poverty. currently connects lenders in more than 50 countries with entrepreneurs in 37 developing countries, through 65 microfinance partners. is headquartered in San Francisco.

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