Silatech and KIVA have announced that Kiva Arab Youth, a joint initiative in which the public can lend directly to young Arab entrepreneurs, has financed over 1,400 new businesses worth $1.7 million since the campaign began in March 2012. Over 38,000 lenders from throughout the world have been mobilized to support young men and women in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Yemen. Visitors to www.kiva.org can lend as little as USD25 to the entrepreneur of their choice.
Kiva and Silatech have jointly identified that lending through Kiva to the Arab world is significantly below levels seen in other regions. In response to this fact, Kiva Arab Youth was launched, with the objective of mobilizing increased interest and investment in the Arab world through the Kiva platform.
The world’s largest online microlending platform, since Kiva’s inception in 2005 lenders have provided more than $350 million in loans to 850,000 borrowers worldwide. Loans funded though Kiva have a 98% repayment rate. Kiva does not charge interest to field partners distributing their loans, and does not provide interest to lenders.
To further boost awareness of Kiva Arab Youth within the Arab world, Silatech has initiated a social media campaign focusing on the GCC countries and Jordan. In addition to building an optimized presence on platforms such as Facebook (www.facebook.com/kivaarabyouth) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/kivaarabyouth), the campaign will focus on introducing Kiva Arab Youth to local and regional bloggers. Silatech has also launched a customized “microsite” (www.kivaarabyouth.org) which provides entrepreneur profiles in Arabic and then refers browsers onto the Kiva platform to make a loan.
According to Justin Sykes, Director of Microenterprise at Silatech, “Online lending platforms like Kiva Arab Youth are an attractive option for socially conscious charitable givers in the Arab world. In a culture with such a rich tradition of charitable giving, Kiva Arab Youth offers an innovative form of sustainable assistance which allows individuals to know exactly where their loan is going. Through Kiva Arab Youth, anyone can offer motivated youth Arab entrepreneurs a ‘hand up’ rather than just a handout.”