Innovative Loans Series: Loans to Small Growing Businesses Expand Kiva Lenders' Impact

This post is the final post of a 3 part series highlighting some of the innovative loans that the Kiva community has helped us test and scale.

Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs), those with 5 to 250 employees, are responsible for employing over 75% of the developed world’s workforce, but in low-income countries they provide only half of those jobs (about 30%).

SMEs’ are often too small and too risky for banks to consider lending to them, but also need larger loans than most microlenders will offer. They are caught in between and are overlooked by lending institutions.

To combat this, Kiva is expanding its reach and providing loans from $10,000-$100,000 to small growing businesses (SGBs, a smaller subset of SMEs that have growth potential and can benefit from smaller amounts of funding) in developing countries. Since 2013, Kiva’s SGB pilot program has funded 95 medium-sized loans around the world using its unique low interest, crowdfunding model.


One such loan recipient is Jean Bosco in Southern Rwanda. Jean is currently repaying his third SGB loan since 2013 to grow his rice processing facility. His facility works with over 2,000 local farmers to provide cash advances for rice production, which he then buys back, processes and sells. Jean has taken out three successively larger loans, with the most recent totaling $50,000, which he has invested in growing his production facilities and number of employees all while helping his partners double and triple their production. Furthermore, thanks to Kiva lenders’ loans, Jean Bosco has been able to access additional and larger funding sources. These sources have explicitly stated that their investments are a direct result of Jean Bosco and his field partner organization, African Entrepreneur Collective, track record with Kiva.


Providing loans to borrowers like Jean Bosco is an efficient and powerful way to impact a large community. SGBs are successful at promoting community-wide prosperity because of their ability to hire a large number of employees, promote sustainable growth and provide equitable goods and services for all economic sectors.

Despite their large size, SGB loans fund at over ten times the rate of regular Kiva loans. Kiva lenders have cited the heightened communication with borrowers and increased impact as key reasons for SGB investment. Kiva’s experimentation with larger loans has recruited support from external funding sources as well. The Lemelson Foundation recently committed almost $100k to Kiva’s SGB efforts. With such a positive response from partners and the public, Kiva’s Partnerships team is planning to increase the number of SGB loans available on in coming years.

But with increased impact and loan size comes increased risk. To maintain its 94% SGB repayment rate Kiva performs regular due diligence on its field partners and relies on Kiva lenders’ patient capital, which can be repaid more slowly than micro-loans. Any partners with high default rates will often voluntarily pause loan administration to review their due diligence process.

Kiva’s aims to expand it’s SGB program to support more regional entrepreneurs and help them scale so they can employ more people in their community.


About the author

Rourke Healey

Rourke was born and raised in the East Bay Area. He recently graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles where he studied Diplomacy and World Affairs and minored in Psychology. During his junior year, Rourke studied abroad in Arusha, Tanzania where he developed a keen interest in international development. He has returned to the East African region twice to complete Swahili training and his thesis research on middle class consumer behavior in Dar es Salaam. His passion for microfinance was discovered when he travelled to Kathmandu, Nepal last winter to work with an MFI supporting women’s empowerment though microloans. Rourke enjoys biking, getting outdoors and exploring new places. At home, he spends his free time writing, watching live music and going to local sporting events.