Helping students and their parents pay for tuition, school fees, uniforms, computers, books, pencils and more, these loans are building the next generation of global leaders. They also give Kiva lenders the opportunity to make a tangible difference in people's lives -- empowering them get the resources they need to stay in school, find a good job, and bring real change to their communities and countries.
Kiva launched its first education Field Partnership with Strathmore University in Kenya at the very beginning of 2012. But the idea has caught on like wildfire, with now over a dozen partners offering students and parents financing options for school and supplies.
Olivia, Strathmore University student and Kiva borrower.
Why did Kiva decide to branch into education loans? We believe that education sits at the crux of poverty and economic empowerment. So often education is the flashpoint that allows people to make sustainable incomes and invest more in their families, enabling their children to go to school and continuing and virtuous cycle of change.
Consider the facts:
Higher education makes a difference: Unemployment is 18% lower  for college graduates than for high school graduates. The gap between male and female employment also narrows at every level of education from 21% to just 9% between high school and college.
It pays to invest in education : The average public return for college-educated men is US$91,000 and US$55,000 for women. Educated people give back to their communities and societies in the form of increased taxes, decreased use of social services. They generally require less health care and tend to spend more on goods and services throughout their lifetimes. This might sound a little cut-and-dry, and even cynical. But this is where development starts, and how communities pull themselves out of poverty.
The ticket to a better life: Education doesn't only improve people's lives in terms of income and employment. There are a lot of intangible benefits too. Educated individuals report higher levels of happiness and fulfillment. They're also more socially and civically engaged in improving life for their neighbors too. For example, 87% of college graduates vote in elections while only 74% of high school graduates do . Notably, this also impact gender relations, with perception of equality increasing at every level of education.
Sandra, Kiva borrower and nursing student at CampoAlto in Colombia.
Talking about women and girls... We can't stress enough what a difference school can make for women and girls around the world, especially in developing countries -- not to mention the ripple effect:
- Children of women who have completed just primary school are 40% less likely to die before age 5 .
- Studies have shown that investing in education for girls can move the needle on national GDPs .
- Girls who receive at least 7 years of education  marry 4 years later and have 2.2 fewer children.
- Women tend to invest 80% of their incomes in their children's health, well-being and school.
Kiva's education loans are designed to spark these changes in the countries where we work, and we're incredibly excited about the number of women borrowers we've seen posted on the site.
Kiva borrower Victoria, a student at Maharishi Education for Invincibility Trust in South Africa, working toward her bachelor's in business administration.
Meet our education Field Partners:
On that note, we'd like to introduce you to the organizations making this possible. Each of these partners is working hard to create and offer loan products to help students start and stay in school -- whether its primary, secondary or graduate school. It all makes a difference.
Strathmore University   (Kenya) - A prestigious university in Kenya that values financing students who can't afford to attend. Provides a holistic education and helps students find competitive internships and jobs.
Maharishi Education for Invincibility Trust  (South Africa) - A school that pairs distance and computer learning to provide tailored technical educations to students who don't have the flexibility to attend school full time, like single mothers and people who need to work multiple jobs to make ends meet.
CampoAlto  (Colombia) - A chain of vocational and technical schools offering loans to lower-income students to get the training they need to find and build well-paid, sustainable careers.
Yayasan Sosial Bina Sejahtera  (Indonesia) - Offering loans that help low-income, rural students afford to attend high school or vocational school.
Kiva borrower Kartiwen and her son, Kaswan, who is attending YSBS' maritime academy in Indonesia with a Kiva loan.
These are the big ones, but 16 others offer school fees and supply loans along with the standard micro-business loans that make up the bulk of their portfolios. These partners include: Colfuturo , XacBank , National Finance Bank , CEPRODEL , EDAPROSPO , AFODENIC , AqroInvest Credit Union , Fundacion Paraguaya , IMON International , Al Majmoua Lebanese Association for Development , Palestine for Credit & Development , IMPRO , MiCredito , Ameen , Nor Horizon , and SEDA .
Whew! So many, and more to come!
Keep your eyes peeled for several new partner launches fitting this theme this month. In the meantime, you can find higher education loans on Kiva by checking the "Higher Education" box in the left-hand sidebar on the Lend tab. Or you can click here too .
Check out our Blog series:
This month, we'll be bringing you blog posts highlighting all the ways Kiva touches education at home and abroad. We'll introduce you to students who wouldn't have been able to continue their educations without Kiva loans and to their counterparts in the United States who've pooled their limited resources to support entrepreneurs around the world. We've also interviewed teachers and administrators making Kiva loans happen on both end of the process -- and we can't wait to share their words of wisdom and inspiration with you.
So stay tuned into the Kiva Blog at kiva.org/updates . We'll be sharing all kinds of good stats and stories via Facebook  and Twitter  too. And we'd love to hear from you about what you think of education loans, why you lend to promote education, etc. Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org .