The PayPal and Kiva Connection: A Shared Mission

Blog by Premal Shah, President and Co-founder, Kiva
Oct 7, 2016 2:30 PM ET

I joined PayPal as one of their first 50 employees in 2000 as a product manager. Little did I know that this job was going to lead me into my career as an social entrepreneur and that PayPal would be the company that helped make Kiva, a global nonprofit, possible.

In the early days of PayPal it was really just a group of strange geniuses. We were all a little weird, but it was really clear how intelligent and dedicated the team was to building a global payment service from the get go.

Everyone was dedicated to thinking about how we could make a difference in the world. When it came time for my sabbatical, I traveled to India where I became inspired by the possibilities of microfinance that I saw there. When I returned to PayPal and shared my newfound interest with my teams, I was amazed that management encouraged me to continue digging in and researching the possibilities of lending in developing countries. Not many companies would have the foresight to let an employee, who was super fired up about the idea of microfinance, develop it - that was really exciting.

And I was able to turn this research into a force for good. When I was finally ready to go out on my own in 2006, I co-founded Kiva with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Our platform was created to allow people worldwide to loan small amounts of money to entrepreneurs who would otherwise be excluded from traditional lending. This resonated strongly with PayPal’s leadership and they decided not only to partner with us, but to create a unique collaboration to process every Kiva loan for free. Looking back after 10 years is an incredible feeling - PayPal has been there since Day 1 and our model just simply wouldn't be possible without PayPal’s support. 

The money that people are lending on Kiva has provided funding to an amazing range of entrepreneurs. Many borrowers live in places where traditional banking is unavailable, such as war-torn parts of Iraq and the Democratic Republic of the Congo or impoverished rural areas of Uganda. Others live in more developed countries like the U.S., where access to capital continues to be a barrier to some aspiring small business owners. The money lent by our contributors makes such a difference for those embarking on their dreams.

In total, we’ve helped more than 2 million borrowers in 85 countries access over $920 million in loans from 1.5 million lenders around the world. I’m proud of the impact that we’ve had over the past 10+ years, appreciative of PayPal for helping make it possible and optimistic about the opportunity to create even more impact going forward.

I’m excited that PayPal is kicking off our next 10 years of collaboration with 10 days of lending. Now through October 10th, the first 10,000 people who make a loan through the campaign will receive a $25 Kiva credit compliments of PayPal’s Corporate Advised Fund.

It sounds corny when I say it, but there’s something so powerful about people believing in you when you’re on your entrepreneurial journey. It’s been amazing to see how PayPal’s support has helped all of us be a part of millions of these journeys around the world. I’m really looking forward to seeing what more we can do together.

Learn more about the partnership between PayPal and Kiva and participate in the campaign here