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Inspiring stories from Kiva President Premal Shah at Hearsay Social Innovation Summit

Our inaugural Innovation Summit for financial industry leaders is taking place at the San Francisco headquarters today. The summit brings together industry thought leaders to discuss the future of financial services and relationship management in the social era.
After an opening fireside chat with Sallie Krawcheck and a panel featuring CEOs of financial startups, the afternoon continued with a fireside chat with Premal Shah, President of, a micro-finance site that connects investors with low-income entrepreneurs across the globe.

Shah shared inspiring stories of some borrowers, like Yenku (a double-amputee from Sierra Leone who supports his family with a grocery stand) and Olivia (an 18-year-old woman in Kenya who wants to pay her degree at Strathmore University, one of the leading private universities in Kenya).
Many of the stories of the beneficiaries of Kiva are individually vetted by local microfinance organizations or universities, as in the case of Strathmore. A new “alpha” model, however, includes a word-of-mouth component that allows borrowers who have successfully paid back their loans to vouch for others whose credit scores might not fully represent their credit worthiness.
“In the early days, just getting people to the website was a challenge,” explained Shah. “Today, we raise $1 million every three days on the site.”
Last year, Reid Hoffman donated $1 million to consumers who wanted to donate on Kiva in $25 increments. Since then, Hoffman’s investment has been paid back, and the new lenders have donated an additional $1.2 million of their own money.
“The opportunity for brands to have an impact and engage their customers is real.”

A happy holiday to entrepreneurs around the world

Hearsay Social just had an incredible year.
From unstoppable momentum in the social business space to a CEO recently named to Starbucks’ board of directors, our company’s trajectory going into 2012 couldn’t look any better. But the path to success, especially for a startup, is not easy. Many long hours in the early morning and evening, last-minute hustling to put out fires, the wearing of many hats across the team–scaling a rapidly growing company is hard to do.

With all that in mind, and with the utmost thankfulness for how much we’ve accomplished, we thought that we’d take the opportunity this holiday season to help others realize their full potential as well.
That’s why, in the name of our customers and partners, Hearsay Social made several modest donations to Kiva, a San Francisco-based non-profit organization that enables money lending to microfinance institutions in developing countries.
About Kiva:

We are a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.

Store owners in Paraguay, farmers in Azerbaijan, bakers in Armenia. These are all hard-working people with real businesses, but–just like a Silicon Valley startup needs its VCs and angels–they need a little cash injection to really take off. Kiva connects those people with lenders around the world through microfinance institutions.
Beyond all this social good, Kiva was also a good fit for Hearsay Social because the organization has heartily embraced social media.
A couple months ago, Mashable published a Q&A with Kiva CEO Matt Flannery, who talked about how the organization uses social media to “spark a dialogue of change.” Said Flannery:

Last month we ran a social “invite challenge.” We challenged our users to invite other users to “try Kiva for free” through Facebook, Twitter and other channels. We created excitement with limited, free trial availability and offered Kiva t-shirts to those that successfully invited five or more friends. The results blew my mind. In less than 24 hours, our users convinced about 8,000 people to come on our site for the first time and make loans to borrowers in need all over the world. For some Web 2.0 businesses, 8,000 may not seem like a huge number. But for a philanthropic organization, processing actual transactions, this is a staggering number in 24 hours. Through the experience, we learned a lot about what motivates users in social media — personal achievement, rewards, scarcity and urgency. We hope to build these ideas into new user engagement products in the year ahead.

Socially conscious AND social media savvy? Hearsay Social is honored to be supporting Kiva and encourages everyone to take a look at the service themselves.
And, with that, we wish you a wonderful holiday season!

How Kiva Works from Kiva on Vimeo.