Kiva.org, the world’s largest personal microlending website, announced today with professional skin care brand Dermalogica, actress and advocate Geena Davis, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and women’s clothier Eileen Fisher and others, the launch of a novel campaign to provide micro loans to women entrepreneurs in low-income regions of the United States and 56 other countries.
Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship
Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship, or FITE, is a campaign designed exclusively to benefit women entrepreneurs and marks the first time that an open microlending platform has been created that is accessible to consumers online, offline and through retail channels. It also marks the first time that a microlending platform has been designed from the ground up to collectively engage the private sector, its marketing prowess, its employee networks and funding support, to empower women entrepreneurs globally.
The FITE campaign is an extension of the quickly expanding and unique platform that was created by Kiva.org in 2005. Through its open platform, the FITE campaign’s strategic partners are enabling not just institutions, but also retail customers and the public at large to serve as lenders and agents of change.
The strategic partners announced today include the upcoming film documenting Muhammed Yunus’ To Catch a Dollar, Eileen Fisher, Lifetime Networks, Seventh Generation, Dansko, Terracycle, Mary’s Gone Crackers, Step Up Women’s Network, and Geena Davis, Julia Ormond, Isobel Coleman and Nicholas Kristof and his best-selling book Half the Sky.
The targeted areas include developing areas in the United States and 56 countries in Central America, South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
Short Video on Join FITE – online p2p lending portal
The concept of microcredit for entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional financing was developed by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus, the Bangladeshi economist. Seventy percent of people living in poverty are women. While research has shown that women who are financially independent can be the greatest agents of change in their communities, only 2 percent of all international aid money goes to women. The joinFITE campaign has as its initial goal helping at least 25,000 women start or grow a business in the next two years. Microlending helps provide access to the financing they need to do this, but the demand for microfinance services, specifically for women, remains largely unmet.
A novel aspect of the campaign is its engagement of retail consumers as microlenders. Dermalogica, for example, will contribute $1 every time a consumer goes to the joinFITE.org Web site and enters a code printed on FITE-themed packaging that the company is using for five of its best-selling products. The resulting micro loan is made available to a designated entrepreneur within hours.