Sep 22, 2012

Social Enterprise Case of the Day (Ref. Kiva)

Funders require that you figure everything out before they will even consider funding you. The questions posed by our model, at this point, seemed intractable and a reasonable set of answers would require a multimillion dollar investment in legal fees. Thus, we were presented with a classic entrepreneur’s dilemma: begin and be exposed, or don’t begin at all.
That is from the case study of Kiva (Innovation, 2007). And the dilemma is solved with two words: "just start." We will discuss this case in my social entrepreneurship class. You have probably seen the TED video where Jessica Jackley explains Kiva
The Kiva's Product Philosophy 
  • People are central. The first thing you notice are faces. Money and organizations are secondary, people are primary. 
  • Lending is connecting. At, lending money is all about information exchange. In a sense, money is a type of information. Lending to someone else creates an ongoing communication between two individuals that is more bind- ing than a donation. 
  • Things are always changing. Every time you load our website, it should be dif- ferent. Every minute, loans are being purchased and repaid, and stories are being told about the borrowers. This can lead to a dynamic where philanthropy can actually become addictive. 
  • Emphasize Progress over Poverty. Business is a universal language that can appeal to people of almost every background. This can lead to partnerships rather than benefactor relationships. We appeal to people's interests, not their compassion. 
  • Create a Data-Rich Experience. Whenever it is possible to collect data from the field, we collect it. Over time, we will display as much information about our partners, lenders, and borrowers as possible and let the users decide where money flows.
What has been important for the success of Kiva?
Near that time a friend told me that a key to success in any venture is a combination of surrender and attachment. By that, he suggested I surrender all of my fears to a cause greater than myself and attach myself to it with everything. I listened. That single mindedness unlocked a potential I never knew existed. It also took quite a toll on my personal life from which I’m just learning to recover. Similarly, this cause took over the lives of a number of other people. Although only some could be mentioned in a paper of this size, they all have shown what people can achieve when they lay their egos at the alter of something greater than themselves.
The case is here.

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