Keystone Study – Online Philantrophy Markets

A very interesting study that mainly concentrates on donations covers aspects of social lending too. Among the 24 online philantrophy markets examined are Kiva and MyC4. The study gives great advice what users (donors and lenders) expect from the market (the service) as functionality.

The study comments on Kiva:

Kiva’s entire business model was, from the start, faced with seemingly insurmountable logistical issues. From verifying the legitimacy of entrepreneurs’ claims straight through to delivering repayments to investors. In addition the challenges of distance, cost, and time were considerable. By partnering with carefully-selected microfinance institutions (MFI) already working in a particular area, however, Kiva has been able to overcome all of these hurdles. … And each MFI’s reputation as an accountable, socially responsible organisation must be unimpeachable with Kiva or another highly regarded organisation such as the US Peace Corps. Partnering with MFIs also overcomes the communication issues encountered working with small businesspeople in developing countries. Whereas very few small business owners in developing countries have Internet access or English language skills, all of the MFIs must have these in order to work with Kiva. This compromise enables individual stories from entrepreneurs, relayed by MFIs, to reach investors both before a loan is disbursed and after its effects are felt. Though loan repayments have been generally taken as a ‘proxy for success’ in the MFI industry, it is these personal stories, says Kiva’s Ben Elberger, which are
most important to most of its donors: ‘The lenders are more interested in the qualitative results than the quantitative…They are more interested in learning what happened to the entrepreneur than they are in getting their money back.’ Thus, the information provided by Kiva’s partners in each of their business’s journals is very rarely financially detailed; rather, it tells the story of how the loan will (or has) impacted on the day to day life of the business owner.

What does the future hold for Kiva? One of its primary goals has become strengthening their partner MFIs, helping them reach a more sustainable financial position so that fluctuations in funds received from Kiva will not impact their overall ability to lend. It is also developing an internal reporting system, but identifying common indicators for MFI and businesses has been extremely difficult, and it is unsure that such a framework is even possible. The biggest variable for the future, it says, is to what degree the public’s moral attention to sustainability and development will last.

MyC4 is given as example for the useful integration of Web 2.0 technologies to create an interactive market.

While a long read (over 50 pages without appendix) I believe it to be interesting for all p2p lending services especially the product development and marketing managers.

Download the study