September 05, 2007 08:00 ET

This Holiday Season Give a Gift That Pays It Forward... and Back Again

President Clinton Names as an Ideal Way for Individuals to Make a Difference in the World in His New Book "Giving"

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - September 5, 2007) - Want to give a gift that will truly change someone's life this holiday season?, the world's first microlending website, lets individuals purchase gift certificates for friends and family, allowing them to make a loan directly to an entrepreneur in the developing world.

Appearing on the Oprah Winfrey show on September 4 to discuss his just-released book "Giving," President Clinton and Oprah discussed the online loan concept with founders Matt and Jessica Flannery. While Oprah said that a growing number of her producers are becoming "addicted" to, President Clinton raised the question of whether a donation of $25 or $50 will make a difference, which he answers in his book: "That question has been resolved in an innovative way by Kiva, an NGO that offers people the chance to become microcredit lenders of as little as $25 to entrepreneurs in developing countries."

Due to popular demand, is offering gift certificates for use as holiday and other gifts. "A gift certificate is the only gift that refuses to be given away," said Matt Flannery, CEO and Co-Founder. "We have seen so many lives changed by what we might consider a tiny loan in this country. We know people are looking both to give and receive meaningful gifts, so we're thrilled to offer online gift certificates again this year."

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 a 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 $11 million has been loaned by 100,000 Kiva Lenders to 16,000 entrepreneurs in 36 countries through The organization has been covered by 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 microlending 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 36 developing countries, through 60+ microfinance partners. is headquartered in San Francisco.

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