Kiva Starts Microloans for Students

Kiva.org, an online microfinancing tool, announced Monday that it is introducing a new loan service specifically for college students.

The new service will allow individuals to provide loans starting at just $25 to students in three developing countries: Bolivia, Lebanon and Paraguay.

"In developing countries, access to funding for education doesn't exist like it does in the United States," said Premal Shah, president of Kiva.org, in a press release. "Without being given the opportunity, students don't have the chance to demonstrate fiscal responsibility.”

So, for example, Perla Rosana Torres, a 23-year-old student studying to be a surgical instrument technician in Paraguay, is using this service to raise $125 which she intends to put toward buying two books and paying for transportation.

According to her Kiva page, “Perla has a great desire to finish her career studies, practice her profession and help her family … She currently has some expenses for educational materials, transportation and monthly payments that she needs to pay because she goes to a private school. She is requesting the loan to cover these expenses.”

The larger hope for this program is that it may spur better education and loan services to many needy countries throughout the world.

“We believe the internet community is in a unique position to share the risk of student lending in the developing world and if these students repay their loans -- as we believe they will -- it could be the very impetus needed to make education accessible for everyone around the world,” Shah said.

Kiva launched in 2008 and initially offered microloans to businesses in developing countries, but has since started providing these same services to businesses based in the U.S. So perhaps one day, we will see the student microloan service pop up here as well.

For more information about microfinancing services like Kiva, check out this MainStreet article.

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