Kiva, the world’s first and largest microlending platform, and Reid Hoffman, one of Silicon Valley’s most successful entrepreneurs, are joining forces to alleviate poverty and open the doors of entrepreneurship worldwide. Hoffman is funding a $1 million free trial program, allowing 40,000 new Kiva users to make a $25 loan to the borrower of their choice at no cost. Since this week’s free trial launch, the rate of new users signing up on Kiva is nine times faster than usual. More than half of the 40,000 free trials were claimed in less than a week, setting in motion a ripple effect of entrepreneurial support around the globe. “Kiva brings us all closer to a time when each of us has the opportunity to reach our full potential, whether we live in the world’s biggest cities or most remote villages,” said Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, Kiva Board Member, and co-author of The Start Up of You. “Through Kiva’s Free Trial program I am inviting 40,000 people to make that potential a reality for tens of thousands of people worldwide so they can create a better future for themselves and their families.”
Kiva helps to break the cycle of poverty worldwide by connecting lenders to borrowers through loans that change lives. During the free trial, new users of Kiva.org/free can take $25 out of Reid Hoffman’s account and lend it to the entrepreneur of their choice. As the loan is repaid, they receive updates and notes from the borrower on how the funds were used and how they are doing. After a user tries Kiva for free, they can then decide if they want to lend their own money to another borrower on the site.
“Kiva offers each of us the chance to be a part of a growing community of people who care about the impact they have in the world,” said Premal Shah, President of Kiva. “The momentum at which people are claiming these free trials proves to me that the passion to lend support and help someone lift themselves out of poverty is widely felt around the world.”
Over the past few days more than 22,000 people have flocked to Kiva to sign up as new users—a number that Kiva would typically see only after two months. It is not just the initial sign-ups that are promising for this nonprofit organization. Kiva is experimenting with a not-for-profit application of “freemium” models that have propelled growth for companies like Zynga, Paypal, and LinkedIn.
The premise of Kiva’s freemium model is that after having the full Kiva experience, new users will opt-in to lend their own money. From Kiva’s free trial pilot last August, more than 14% became regular lenders—a rate three times what is typically expected for freemium models.
Often only a relatively small amount of money stands in the way of Kiva borrowers and their dreams. Whether it is a family in New Orleans hoping to start a small business, or a young Bolivian woman who lacks the tuition for nursing school, Kiva gives the people the chance to lend their support to these and countless other borrowers. And, by lending as little as $25 to a borrower, you not only help an individual lift themselves out of poverty, you are setting in motion a ripple effect of change for their families and communities. Check out Kiva.org/free and be a part of the ripple effect for change.