Zidisha Microfinance connects tech-savvy emerging market entrepreneurs with individual investors

New crowd-funding platform can help businesses in developing countries prosper with peer-to-peer microloans

Mar 08, 2013, 16:07 ET from Zidisha Microfinance

STERLING, Va., March 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Those who have ever wished to help less-than-fortunate individuals in developing nations, but felt too far away to make a difference, have recently been afforded a new opportunity through crowd-funding technology introduced by Zidisha Microfinance.

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The Virginia-based firm, whose namesake is derived from the Swahili word for "grow," has created a platform that helps individuals in the world's poorest countries receive the financial assistance they require for a variety of different business projects from people across the world. By lending as little as a few dollars or as much as thousands, investors can help citizens in developing countries grow their small businesses and improve their communities.

"It's always been accepted as a fact of life that a person born in Niger or Burkina Faso will not have the same opportunities as someone born in the US or Europe," said Julia Kurnia, director of Zidisha Microfinance. "Now that technology is making geographic location irrelevant, that no longer has to be true."

To date, Zidisha Microfinance has grown to include 3,890 worldwide members, and has helped to raise $842,682 for the financing of 1,498 businesses. Once borrowers have utilized their loan and begun to see profits, they pay back their benefactors with interest.

In one instance, a donkey-cart owner named Sammy Kanja used a loan of $971 to make repairs to his cart and purchase new tires. His business greatly benefited by the updates, and he was able to quickly pay back the loan and receive additional funding for the purchase of a second cart and three additional donkeys. With the increased profits, Kanja said he was able to go back to school - which he previously dropped out due to lack of funds.

Another Zidisha loan beneficiary is Violet Karwimbo, a mother of two from Nairobi, Kenya. After being laid off from her job, Karwimbo used her $250 of personal savings to establish a hardware store in her neighborhood. As her company gained business, a friend who had previously received a loan from Zidisha informed her of the opportunity and she requested to borrow $302. In early August, she received the money and was able to purchase highly-sought items, such as water pipes and plumbing fittings. Today, she is planning to move her business to a paved shopping plaza.

About Zidisha Microfinance:
Zidisha Microfinance is the first person-to-person microlending service to eliminate local intermediaries and facilitate direct interaction between lenders and borrowers across the international wealth divide. Whereas borrowers financed through traditional microfinance services, such as the well-known Kiva.org, pay average interest rates of 35 percent, and sometimes as much as 88 percent  to the local intermediaries that manage the loans, Zidisha borrowers pay a transaction fee of 5 percent and then offer any interest rate they choose to lenders. Lower costs mean more profit for the entrepreneurs, and greater wealth creation for their communities.

To learn more about Zidisha Microfinance, visit the company's website at www.zidisha.org.

SOURCE Zidisha Microfinance