World Vision Launches Kiva-like Microfinance Platform

Posted by on November 17, 2009 in Featured, Microfinance


For over 60 years, World Vision has been a pioneer in supporting humanitarian efforts around the world. In 1993 the organization launched a micro lending component supporting poor entrepreneurs in developing countries via micro loans. More recently, they have launched Micro, a micro- lending website to supporting their microfinance initiatives. In a similar manner to Kiva and other micro lending sites, Micro allows ordinary individuals anywhere in the world to take a stance against poverty by lending a small amount to a struggling entrepreneur.

“Micro—World Vision’s new poverty-fighting initiative—is based on a simple idea: you don’t have to be rich to create economic opportunity for the poor. Each of us can fund a small loan to help hardworking men and women with sound business ideas but no access to credit. Micro connects you with the entrepreneur of your choice. You get to decide how much to give. A typical microloan ranges between $25 and $5,000. Once you’ve decided whom to help, you can follow their success as they start a woodworking shop, buy farm animals, or expand their restaurant—creating jobs to benefit their entire community.”

After a loan is repaid—and nearly 99% of them are repaid—it gets recycled to help even more families work their way out of poverty. This way loans can be used again and again to impact countless lives.

Since this initiative is brought to you by World Vision, one of the top global humanitarian organizations serving children and their families, Micro is part of a much larger effort to end global poverty. “We don’t just give out small loans; we establish long-term partnerships communities, providing access to basic needs like clean water, nutritious food, health care, and education.”

Below is a intimate story of one of the entrepreneurs who was assisted by World Vision’s microfinance program:

WVMicro Nilza

Unemployed, but not out of ideas
Five years ago, Nilza Barbosa was unemployed. Nilza and her sister, who both live in a rural village in Brazil, decided to create dolls out of fabric scraps to sell for income. The miniature fabric dolls, called Solidarity Dolls, were well received in the community. Initially, they sold a lot of dolls, but the success was short-lived.

WVMicro Nilza 1

Stumbling blocks and suffering
“There was a time when the sales fell, and the great amount of dolls I had made stayed with me. A suffering period came. I didn’t sell my work, and I got sick. I had no income, and couldn’t buy a piece of clothing, nor a shoe,” says Nilza.

Sales improve with small loan and business plan
Then Nilza learned about World Vision’s microfinance programs. With a new business plan and a small loan, her sales began to grow. Eventually, more orders came, and Nilza employed five women to help her meet the growing demand for her little fabric dolls. Over the next few years, that team of five grew to 40 women.

Helping other women
“That’s a thing that makes me very happy,” explains Nilza, “because the little dolls that I like so much are helping other people. Today, there are 40 women that are provided an income from these dolls.”

Extraordinary success
Her little Solidarity Dolls are now the most exported Brazilian fair-trade product. The dolls can be found in stores around Holland, Luxembourg, and Germany, as well as in a popular cosmetics franchise in Brazil.

Lives changed, one small loan at a time
“I never thought that my work and the girls’ work would have so much value,” says Nilza. “I am very happy to know that the girls are also happy. Now, after the dolls, thanks to God they can buy clothes, a piece of furniture, to support their homes. Such a tiny thing that we made of scrap is changing their lives.

Inspired by this story and others, the team here at SocialEarth has donated $25 to Esteban Ixmatlahua Silvestre to fund his business expansion.  Stay tuned for updates!


Naiomi is passionate about business for good and social entrepreneurship. As co-founder of SocialEarth, she hopes to help create an information platform enabling those doing good to share their stories with those those seeking to help and are interested in moving our world forward.

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