World Vision Launches Kiva-like Microfinance Platform

Posted by on November 17, 2009 in Featured, Microfinance - 19 Comments


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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19 Comments on "World Vision Launches Kiva-like Microfinance Platform"

  1. Ashley November 17, 2009 at 9:29 am ·

    It is exciting to see such a big name like World Vision get behind the microfinance movement. This can only mean good things for the millions of people who want to help and the millions of people who need help. Great showcase, Naiomi!

  2. Name November 17, 2009 at 10:46 am ·

    Good post Naomi. Interesting thing to note- check out something that's been around for a while. Do we risk over saturation of the peer-to-peer models?

  3. Erikeliason November 17, 2009 at 2:40 pm ·

    I completely agree. The more energy in this space the better!

  4. Erikeliason November 17, 2009 at 7:27 pm ·

    Stay connected with Micro on Twitter:

  5. Mohammed Aaser November 17, 2009 at 7:32 pm ·

    I'm interested in launching a business that involves manufacturing certain products and I wonder if there is a way to work with individuals around the world to help manufacture it. Wouldn't it be cool if there was some way to distribute manufacturing to individuals with certain skills?

  6. Mohammed Aaser November 17, 2009 at 7:33 pm ·

    So in relation to the post…would be cool if the microfinance groups could marry both…funding and available skillsets…

  7. Akhila November 18, 2009 at 1:59 pm ·

    Wow! This is a fascinating initiative, and it's so exciting to see large NGOs/organizations like Word Vision start working in microfinance – and not just that, but bringing it online and taking innovative strides. I just wonder though, about the replication of this – if it is so similar to Kiva, why create a new initiative/site?

  8. Naiomi Bisram November 18, 2009 at 6:03 pm ·

    Thanks Ashley!

  9. Naiomi Bisram November 18, 2009 at 6:05 pm ·

    Hello- I definitely hear your point on the peer-to-peer models but don't think we're at a point of saturation quite yet. It'll be an interesting area to watch as we progress. Thanks for the website reco, I'll check it out.

  10. rajansamuel November 18, 2009 at 6:05 pm ·

    Great initiative!!! This will certainly provide an opportunity to many faith based “social” investors to invest in micro finance.

    Well done!!!!

  11. microfinance fan November 18, 2009 at 8:30 pm ·

    Only a small percentage of the micro finance demand is being met so we believe there's a lot more room to grow yet. Also, there's a lot of cooperation in this space, World Vision actually provides many loans to Kiva and initially worked with optIiN to get this initiative live. So it's not so much about competitive products but working in different ways to achieve the same purpose.

  12. Mohammod Mohsin November 24, 2009 at 8:56 pm ·

    It is good news for Microfinance Institute that World Vision started microfinance operation to alleviate poverty. Hope they will continue and expand microfinance program in more & more poor country in near future like Bangladesh. I appreciate their good & noble initiative.

    Mohammod Mohsin
    Deputy Coordinator (Credit)

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