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Innovation

Pittsburgh KIVA founder presents the world’s first entrepreneurial charity

Billed as a mix of Google with the do-good ethos of U2’s Bono, KIVA's message is coming to Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh native and co-founder of the San Francisco-based non-profit KIVA Jessica Jackley Flannery will speak at the Regional Learning Alliance in Cranberry Township on Dec. 16th about the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website that empowers individuals to lend money directly to entrepreneurs in developing countries. Flannery, 31, is a 1996 graduate of North Allegheny High School and grew up in Franklin Park.

The concept has generated a storm of media publicity from the Wall Street Journal to Oprah Winfrey.

“The Regional Learning Alliance is proud to offer a program on both philanthropy and the spirit of entrepreneurship during this holiday season with a native that Pittsburgh can be so very proud of," says Justin Griffith, general manager. "She has taken an idea and, in just a few short years, created an organization that has changed the lives of people all around the world."

Kiva has connected with truly promising, real entrepreneurs in impoverished nations worldwide and established a data-rich, transparent lending platform to enable people to connect with and help aspiring businesspeople in need.

Like a social networking site, Kiva posts profiles of potential borrowers and lenders select an individual or group. A little goes a long way in a developing country. Phebe, a widow, farmer and mother of seven in Cameroon, hopes to raise $975 to buy fresh manure, fertilizer, seeds and chemicals to improve her farm and sell crops to the community.

Instead of donations, lenders offer small loans that are sent directly to a microfinance institution in the borrower’s country. The bank monitors the transaction and ensures the loan is repaid. Ninety percent of all active loans are paid on time and the default rate is less than 1 percent. The money is then recycled and loaned again, although that step of the process is still being worked out.

“The Entrepreneurial Spirit” will run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and includes breakfast, a keynote speech and roundtable lunch discussion. The cost is $70 for the whole program but those wishing to attend only a portion of the day can do so for $35. Twenty percent will be donated to KIVA.

Registration is by mail through the RLA website, click here.


Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Justin Griffith, Regional Learning Alliance

Image of Jessica in Tanzania courtesy KIVA
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