A Letter to Kiva Lenders

Dear Kiva Lenders:

Just one year ago the Kiva staff (there were fewer of us then!) were gathered in our one-room office in an old warehouse-turned-office-space in the Mission District of San Francisco. Some of us were in Halloween costumes, all of us were excited for a big day in Kiva history.

One year ago today Frontline/WORLD first aired the program "Uganda: A Little Goes A Long Way" on PBS. The first airing was at 9pm Eastern / 6pm Pacific, and we all stood around our engineers who watched for our traffic numbers to increase. Our total loan portfolio at that time was approximately $400k, and we were excited to see it grow.

Minutes into the broadcast, the Kiva.org website crashed as thousands of people simultaneously typed "www.kiva.org" into their browsers. As the broadcast repeated across each US timezone we had no chance of handling the response we received from this documentary following Kiva Loans from the US, to Uganda, and back again.

Over the next four days Silicon Valley rallied and with the help of many engineers who believed in Kiva's mission, we were back up and running. Viewers came back to the website, and were excited that we had received such an amazing response. They told their friends, and they bought gift certificates for their families.

By Thanksgiving we had passed $1m in total loan volume, we passed $2m just weeks later, and we've not slowed since.

Kiva Lenders recruited new lenders, and one year later there are over 130,000 Kiva Lenders around the globe. Word of mouth spread until finally it reached President Clinton, who has been continuing spreading the word - just like each of you.

Eventually we reached the ears of Oprah Winfrey and appeared on her show less than a year from the Frontline/WORLD broadcast.

We'd like to thank You, Kiva Lenders, for creating a grassroots movement which has truly swept across America and spread across the globe. You've proven that together, $25 at a time, we can make a real difference in the lives of the poor.

To date, you've made a difference of over $13 million, believing in more than 20,000 entrepreneurs who wanted a chance to support themselves through a small business. You've also made a difference in the lives of their families and children, who are enjoying the benefits of additional income to provide for their needs.

It's mind-blowing to think how far we've come in just 12 months. You have all really proven that together we can make a real difference, $25 at a time.


The Kiva Team

About the author

Fiona Ramsey