27 – that’s the small percentage of women around the world who report having access to fair and affordable credit.
Over the past few years, a number of global movements have encouraged people to stand in solidarity with women and fight for large, societal change – from #MeToo, to She Should Run, to He for She. What’s been largely ignored in this realm is women’s fundamental financial inclusion. Though women make up 40% of the workforce globally, many lack access to credit, loans, savings, digital payment methods and, by proxy, the ability to substantially contribute to and benefit from the economy at large.
Kiva, an international tech nonprofit based in San Francisco is trying to change that by expanding financial access through their online platform to help under-served communities thrive.
Visitors to the site browse through individual profiles, stories, and focus areas and choose the entrepreneurial projects they want to lend to through organizations that are on the ground in countries all around the world, called Field Partners. 81% of borrowers and 64% of lenders on the site overall are women.
Lending contributions can be as small as $25, and once the borrower’s loan is repaid, that money can be lent to another project, then another, and then another. $25 on the site goes a long way – and Kiva lenders can truly see where.
For International Women’s Day this year, Kiva is building off the theme of Balance for Better by not only working towards a more gender-balanced financial world, but also by encouraging people to use their (bank) balance for better: by supporting women-owned businesses and female entrepreneurs around the globe who lack access to traditional financial credit on their site. On March 8th, they will have a match-day, with the goal of funding 10,000 women’s projects over the course of the campaign!
Are you inspired yet? Here's a story of one woman who was able to change her fate with a Kiva loan:
Regina survived human trafficking – and now her clothing store is also a sanctuary for other survivors
Regina Evans, Oakland resident, owns a store called Regina’s Door, a theater and apparel shop that also serves as community spot and a haven to those affected by human trafficking. In the past, she’s hired survivors of trafficking, and put on in-store programming for survivors including healing circles, improv, spoken word and poetry. When Regina’s doors first swung open, she had no backstock, working with only 35 pieces of clothing and a 3-month lease. A month later, 193 Kiva lenders supported a $5,000 loan for Regina to purchase stock and buy simple necessities like hangers and an “open” sign. “That was like a million dollars to me,” Regina says of the loan.
You can lend to a woman like Regina by visiting www.kiva.org/lend/women/