In Bed with the Enemy? Kiva and the Chevron Grant

100% of the money Kiva lenders loan goes to the borrowers via the MFIs. Kiva funds it’s operations by donations and grants. The list of corporate partners supporting Kiva is long and growing.

When Kiva announced that they received a 0.5 million US$ one-year grant from Chevron to assist with operational needs across the organization on the one hand that means that Kiva can continue to grow and pursue it’s vision.

On the other hand it did raise concerns with some lenders given the reputation of Chevron. The company is criticized of negligence of environmental risks on multiple accounts (example, example2 or see links in Wikipedia article). Many of the incidents occurred in countries where Kiva is now trying to help.

It’ easy to see why Chevron chose to assist the Kiva cause – it could improve their tarnished reputation and Kiva has a high visibility.

The issue is more on the Kiva side. Why did Kiva accept this grant from a very controversial sponsor? As hard as it must be to keep an organisation running solely on grants and donations – does the end always justify the means?

I am a fan of Kiva but I do have large doubts whether it was the right decision to accept this grant.

One lender in this discussion thread put it this way:

An organization that has human rights issues, donating to a group trying to empower humans.  Isn’t there something wrong with this picture?  What, is Chevron trying not to have nightmares when they put their head on their pillow at night, and Kiva is supposed to make them feel better maybe?  A good name for this partnership might be ‘sleeping with the enemy’ . . .

Kiva celebrates 3rd birthday

Social lending site celebrates it’s third anniversary. In this time Kiva loans with a volume of approximately 45 million US$ have been financed by over 340,000 Kiva users worldwide.  The repayment rate is quoted as 98.6% (see more stats).

Currently Kiva hopes to win a 1.5 million US$ grant in the American Express members project vote. Currently Kiva is second (which would mean a $500,000 grant). If you are an American Express card holder, you still have 7 days to cast your vote.

Kiva also announced a partnership with Ernst&Young. The objective is:

To help facilitate the transparent flow of information and funds between individual lenders, micro-finance institutions, and borrowers, which will ultimately help Kiva continue to grow and serve more entrepreneurs.