Jun 18, 2014 KV Kiva HQ
By Matt Flannery
Thank you Kiva -- a letter from Kiva’s Co-Founder & CEO Matt Flannery
Dear Kiva Community,

After 10 years leading Kiva, I have decided to step down as CEO. First off, I want to express my utmost respect and gratitude to all of you. You’ve not only brought Kiva to life, but you've also brought so much meaning and inspiration to my own life. After many ongoing conversations, I've decided it's time to embark on a new chapter.

Personal life changes (e.g. family health issues, getting married next month!) make this the right time to pause and reflect on life outside of Kiva.  I also consider myself more of an inventor than a manager. A larger organization needs someone who gets daily energy out of scaling to new heights —as opposed to dreaming up new things.

This difficult decision is made far easier knowing Kiva has a solid foundation and is in a great place. We are financially healthy and growing.  Because of you, Kiva has reached incredible milestones: 1.3 million small businesses funded, nearly $600 million in loans. And we’re innovating new ways to reach new populations: 

Kiva Labs -- Microfinance 2.0: lets Kiva lenders finance sustainable solutions in water access, health, higher education and clean energy for underserved populations around the world.
Kiva Zip: a direct lending pilot powered by technology and trust, serving borrowers in Kenya and the United States.
Kiva U: a movement to empower young people—from K-12 to college—with the opportunity to become informed, inspired and mobilized global citizens.

What’s next at Kiva? 

As we go into this transition, I feel confident we’re in good hands. Our President and my wonderful co-pilot for the last 9 years Premal Shah, will continue to lead the company. Premal and Kiva’s highly skilled Management Team will be supported by our Executive Board Chair, Julie Hanna, who has led Kiva’s board for the past 5 years. We’re lucky to have such great leadership continuity.

And I’m not leaving Kiva! While I’ll miss working at Kiva day in, day out—I remain on the Board of Directors, and as Co-Founder will always be a passionate ambassador for Kiva’s mission.

I’ve been overwhelmed with the generosity of your huge hearts. This community created by you has grown beyond anything I could’ve imagined. 1 million+ small businesses in 75 countries whose hard work and dreams have inspired not only me, but the 1 million+ Kiva lenders, staff, Kiva Fellows, editors & translators, interns, lending teams, supporters and Board of Directors.

I’m sending the Kiva community my love and best wishes. You've stood behind Kiva and continue to stand by the millions of people who share our dream.

Matt




Comments

Matt - On behalf of the Kiva team, I want to express how truly thankful we are for your leadership and friendship over the years. You and I have been working on Kiva for nearly 10 years as partners and co-leaders of the organization. In the process, I fell in love with your genius, golden heart, humor and unshakable drive to create something helpful...and hopeful. You’re simply a good man. And I will miss working along side you everyday. Fortunately for us and the millions Kiva touch, you and Jessica took that early trip to Uganda. You had the insight to create a site where the friends you met -- small business owners -- could share their stories with world and the world in turn could invest in their dreams. For those of us who know you, we know you are too humble to brag and take credit. On behalf of everyone whose lives will improve because of it: a deep bow and heartfelt thanks to you, Matt, for creating and leading this organization. We promise to make you proud and carry on diligently and humbly the work you began. Premal

Thanks Matt for making the amazing organization that is Kiva and for bringing a lot of good people in on that journey to greatness. At the end of the day, that's an amazing legacy to leave of having managed to connect so many good people to those in need across the world. I think we all look forward to continuing to inspire, connect, and change the world on this path you've laid before us.

Dear Matt, first things first: congratulations on getting married! Second, thank you for your inspiration and friendship during all these years. You, Premal and the Kiva team revolutionized the microfinance industry. Good luck in your future projects. Martin Burt (Fundacion Paraguaya)

Matt, ya sorprendiste a una gran parte de planeta en 75 países donde el invento funciona; por eso nuestro agradecimiento desde Nicaragua; personas como tu no se retiran, esperemos ver tu nueva idea que fortalezca la ya iniciada en KIVA. Francisco Montoya

Heartfelt best wishes to you, Matt, for your future happiness and success. Thank you for creating the brilliance that is Kiva. Nancy Somers, Kiva Lender

Desde Costa Rica, y del equipo de Fundacion Mujer, le agradecemos mucho todo el trabajo y ante todo su vision por crear una organizacion como KIVA, la cual procura mejorar las condiciones de vida de tantas familias en el mundo. Le deseamos muchos éxitos y si algún dia visita Costa Rica, recuerde que aqui tiene muchas personas amigas que estarán felices de saludarle. Pura Vida!!!

Thank You Matt and congratulations for accomplishing more than anyone could have imagined for Kiva. Your vision has truly empowered 'ordinary people' to do something easy and affordable to help other 'ordinary people' throughout the world. I clearly remember hearing you on CBC radio back in 2007; your enthusiasm and excitement was contagious! I pulled over, wrote down the Kiva website address and signed up as soon as I got home. ""You may never know what results come of your actions, but if you do nothing, there will be no result." Gandhi Thank you and Best Wishes! Proud and happy to be a Kiva Lender, Jane 8369

Thank you Matt for building this amazing thing, and letting me join you for the ride. Kiva changed me forever, and I"ll forever be grateful to you for having the vision to reach across the world and connect lives through these small loans. I remember the day I read Daily Kos and clicked around on the first website, and everything just made sense. All of the experiences I had had in my travels - meeting entrepreneurs who just blew me away with their creativity, perseverance, and self-confidence, waiting for the approval of no-one, working for their children's futures -finally I knew what I could do to contribute. In fact, some people that I still regularly think of in my life are a few of the early Kiva borrowers, in particular Grace Ayaa and Angel Asenov, who seemed to be looking through the camera directly at me, and who I sometimes feel whisper encouragement to me when I struggle to work harder and find my own self-confidence. Because if they can, I can. And because you found a way to connect with those first borrowers you met, we all were able to, too. Thank you, Matt. The amazing impact statistics Kiva can boast, are millions of personal stories of real people, and I'm proud that my story can be just one of them.

Since the first day i have met you in paris 4 years ago you have beeb such a great inspiration for me. 10 years this is huge! I dont that many creators who also succeed in managing and leading a company. You have always been ground to earth leader always very easy to connect with. Congrats to you premal and all the executive team for such an amazing work. Without kiva i would have probably not created Makesense.org. wish you a wonderful wedding and let us know if you come to paris one day!

Congratulations, Matt, and thank you for all that you have done. You are an inspiration to all.

They say it takes 10 years to do anything meaningful. Hats off to you buddy for taking Kiva from vision to reality and building it such a strong foundation. I remain an admirer. Can't wait to hear what you have in store next.

Matt I have deep respect for what you have done with KIVA and what you have allowed us to accomplish with KIVA. Our tiny little team has been able to help people around the world, and we are greatful for that opportunity. God bless you and your family. We wish you well Bill Co-Captain Christians against Abortion

Congratulations on your upcoming marriage and congratulations on creating the most amazing organisation network of people who are able to help worldwide....

Congratulations, Matt, for helping to found and then to build such an amazing organisation. You have given me the opportunity to help make this world a better place: firstly, through being a Kiva lender and, secondly, for the past five years, as a Kiva editor. I wish you well for your coming wedding and your future. You have been instrumental in helping to build something that has made so many of us believe that the world can be a better place.

Il faut beaucoup de courage pour comprendre que d'autres peuvent - mieux que vous - faire grandir votre rêve et votre "invention". Je vous remercie de nous avoir donné la possibilité d'aider simplement et efficacement ceux qui veulent s'en sortir par eux-mêmes, qui n'ont pas besoin de notre pitié mais de notre confiance et de quelques dizaines de dollars... C'est bien plus efficace que beaucoup d'aides "humanitaires" ! Je vous souhaite tout le bonheur du monde dans votre nouvelle vie :-)

Matt, Amazing work--thank you for making Kiva so cool, so right, and so much fun-- just like you. You make my life richer and more meaningful. And fun. Congratulations on getting married and your new adventures--well done my good and faithful servant! Onward and Upward! Matthew McDonald, Kiva lender

Although the staff and all the Kiva community will miss you, we understand why you are moving on. Without the huge burden of being the "face" of Kiva, you are now free to grow the righteous cookie duster that your upper lip so richly deserves. You deserve it, Matt. We can't wait. And of course, starting afresh as Kivas frontman, Premal can also reveal his fine face furniture, having hidden it far too long. So doing, you will be solving all of Kivas most critical and personal and business issues in one fell swoop. Kiva will be able to reach the heights that can only reached when organizational leadership has reached a critical mass of lip foliage. Genius. I, for one, am ready to travel with you both to this higher level of initiation. I can feel my mouth brow growing as I write this. It's a rush like traveling with friends into uncertainty, but still knowing that all will be well in the end. It feels good. Feels like freedom. We are with you, brother.

Matt, Hats off to you for what you have created over the last decade. Nothing short of extraordinary. It's been a privilege to work with you over the years, and I am looking forward to the next chapter. All the best, Dennis

Matt, wow a whole decade, how can that be? I remember when I was still at Village Enterprise and you and Jessica came up with this idea...headed to the field, was going to be Kesho...then became Kiva. It's a fantastic thing you (all) have done...and I know you're super humble but this is a great time to gently step away, knowing that it will continue so well...wow, the possibilities go on! Glad on ya...congrats on your upcoming wedding, and let us all know what's your next 1.0! All the very best...!

Matt - Your past ten years probably rank as one of the most productive among any member of our generation. On the planet. You have created an incredible organization that spreads global understanding – that ties the rich world closer to the poor world – and in so doing, has helped shaped the consciousness of our earth. And Kiva’s loans have impact. I have seen the effect in countless homes, as you spread the human right of credit, targeted at the most effective and impactful organizations out there. Congratulations and my best and fondest wishes for the future!

Matt, there is time for everything and a season for every activity. Congratulations for your upcoming marriage and thank you very much for taking Kiva to this great height for the last 10 years. Through your innovation, you have touched lives and brought food on the table for many. I am glad that you still remain on the KIVA board to provide Governance and Strategic direction, in order to reach more business people around the world. I wish you well. Shadrack, Nairobi, Kenya.

Matt, there is time for everything and a season for every activity. Congratulations for your upcoming marriage and thank you very much for taking Kiva to this great height for the last 10 years. Through your innovation, you have touched lives and brought food on the table for many. I am glad that you still remain on the KIVA board to provide Governance and Strategic direction, in order to reach more business people around the world. I wish you well. Shadrack, Nairobi, Kenya.

You are "Good People" Matt Congratulations on what you have created Best of Luck to you on this transition and all the big things ahead. You´ve been one of the best things that has happened to millions of people around the globe... perhaps in ways you don´t even know! Respect & Peace always

Matt, I wish you well in whatever you do. I look forward to hearing what new and amazing world changing thing you bring to the table next. As you depart, I wish you a wonderful life, and as a new Groom to be, I can only offer my advice, She is the center of your universe, If the Sun Rises and Sets in her eyes, and her happiness is your unswerving goal, then success and solitude will forever be yours.

Matt, you've earned every single bit of the praise from everyone here. I will miss getting to work alongside you in our own little corner of the space but trust that your and Bre's paths will cross mine and Dennis's going forward.

matt, first off - mazel tov on the upcoming nuptials! that's terrific news. and I am heartened to hear that you're embracing a new chapter in your life. your brilliance and determination created kiva and brought it to the prominence it enjoys today. but you also know when it is time to step back and trust those you've nurtured to carry on without you in the driver's seat. premal will do great, thanks to the partnership you've shared these past years. I can hardly wait to see what you'll be dreaming up next. you embody the true spirit of "tikkun olam", making the world a better place. fondly, dawn

Congratulations dude! Recharge those batteries! Enjoy the transitional period, because something big, exciting, important and maybe a tiny bit stressful is coming. Probably.

Dear Matt, You and your team have impacted the world and made it a much better place! However, I bet you didn't know that you have impacted education....especially my General Learning Disabled students. They baked cupcakes each week and sold $70 worth in Canadian funds which would convert with exchange to $50 US. Then they went on the Kiva site to examine the countries and read about people who needed the loans. This encouraged math, reading and geography skills as well as financial literacy. Now children who are disadvantaged can have a voice in helping the world through KIVA and earn their self-esteem through social justice! MANY THANKS! Susan Grigor - Hillside Middle School, Mississauga, ON

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Matt - I'm forever grateful for your vision, enthusiasm and diligence in establishing this fine organization and its mission. I joined Kiva as a lender in 2007 and haven't looked back. While I've been a lender in my own small way, I've received far more from Kiva than I've given. The ability to reach out to others directly is an uplifting experience in every way. Thank you for all you've done, congratulations on your marriage and I wish you great success in all of your future endeavors. With the utmost respect for all you do - Karen Horne, Kiva lender.

Thank you Matt, For your hard work in last 10 years. And etc.

Add new comment

Matt began developing Kiva in late 2004 as a side-project while working as a computer programmer at TiVo, Inc. In December 2005 Matt left his job to devote himself to Kiva full-time. As CEO, Matt led Kiva's growth from a pilot project to an established online service with partnerships across the globe and hundreds of millions in dollars loaned to low income entrepreneurs. Matt was a Skoll Awardee and Ashoka Fellow and was selected to FORTUNE magazine's "Top 40 under 40" list in 2009.  In 2011, Matt was chosen for the The Economist “No Boundaries” Innovation Award.   He graduated with a BS in Symbolic Systems and a Masters in Philosophy from Stanford University.

Add Your Comments