Kiva, a San Francisco-based nonprofit headed by Premal Shah, a Stanford graduate , was last week awarded a $500,000 grant after being voted one of the top four winners of the Google Impact Challenge.
The non-profit website connects people through lending to alleviate poverty. Since 2005, over 1 million small businesses in 75 plus countries have been financed by Kiva lenders. It provides 0 percent interest loans to small businesses around the world, and locally in Oakland, California that are socially impactful but financially excluded, India-West reported.
The winning organizations, whose named were declared Oct 21, will receive support from Google volunteers, and access to co-working space at the Impact Hub Bay Area, the paper said. The remaining organizations in the top 10 earned a $250,000 grant. Kiva has been named as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things and a Top 50 Website by TIME Magazine,’ Shah writes in his LinkedIn profile.
Media quoted Shah as saying in an interview that the role of small business entrepreneurship in local economies is critical in creating new jobs and revitalizing neighborhoods, but that they are too often overlooked by larger lending institutions because their credit history may be too short, business too young, or their ideas appear to be too risky to lenders. He told the media that these entrepreneurs have all the elements of success and have the passion and the plan. The only thing they need is a small amount of capital to start or to expand.
Shah’s inspiration for Kiva came when he was volunteering in a slum in India while on leave from PayPal, where he had been an early employee and Principal Product Manager. For his work as a social entrepreneur, Premal was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and selected to FORTUNE magazine’s “Top 40 under 40″ list.
Shah began his career as a management consultant and graduated from Stanford University. The grant will allow Kiva to continue to provide the 0 percent loans for the small businesses that need it most. But Shah told the paper that the hope is for Kiva not only to help out businesses on a local level, but globally, too.
The idea is to reach as many people, no matter where they are, because talent is everywhere. “We know that talent resides in every neighborhood and town across the country and the world,” Shah noted. “But while talent is universal, opportunity is not. Kiva is a place where the doors to opportunity can be unlocked by anyone, anywhere willing to lend their support.”
Google Impact Challenge advisers looked for projects with innovative approaches, ambitious plans to improve the lives of local residents, and adventurous leadership teams to realize their vision and they narrowed the list from 25 to 10 before the competition went into the people’s hands. Voting took place Sept. 29 through Oct. 20. The $500,000 grant winners were the “People’s Choice” honorees.