A letter from Kiva's Executive Chair of the Board, Julie Hanna.
Dear Kiva Community,
On behalf of Kiva’s Board of Directors, I am excited to share two announcements with you today.
Chris Tsakalakis has joined Kiva as CEO, and Silvija Martincevic has been appointed to the Kiva Board.
I will begin by extending the board’s profound gratitude to Neville Crawley, Kiva’s outgoing CEO. Neville’s transformational leadership came at a pivotal moment. He led Kiva through an unprecedented period of renewal, launched two new innovative impact lines called Kiva Capital and Kiva Protocol, and expanded our mission to build a financially inclusive world where all people have the power to improve their lives. Neville led Kiva to these exceptional achievements while negotiating the far-reaching effects of a global pandemic and answering the clarion call for justice, unity, and action in the face of unspeakable violence, discrimination, and institutionalized racism. As we know all too well, these are forces that disproportionately affect the lives and livelihoods of Kiva’s borrowers and partners.
Against this backdrop, Kiva has emerged stronger and more resilient than ever, ready to unlock the next phase of growth and impact on a mass scale. This is in large part due to the passion, compassion, tenacity, resilience and deep commitment of all Kivans and you, the Kiva community. Your timeless and tireless contributions to building a financially inclusive world for the many, not just the few, continue to change the ground reality of millions of lives, each and every day. Quite simply, Kiva would not be Kiva without you, the Kiva community.
In Chris and Silvija, Kiva is fortunate to have found purpose- and value-driven leaders with unique and inspiring connections to Kiva’s mission, both personally and professionally. Their proven track records in successfully leading highly regarded organizations through periods of rapid growth and impact speak for themselves.
Chris is widely known for his depth of character, integrity, and for being a mission-driven leader. The son of Greek immigrants, Chris experienced first hand the life-altering impact that access to capital had on his family’s livelihood. After arriving in the US, Chris’s father initially worked as a laborer but was eventually able to start his own electrical contracting business with help from a local bank. Chris was the first in his family to graduate from high school and the success his father achieved through the local bank’s help allowed Chris and his siblings to also go to college. Years later, Chris worked in Russia after the fall of the iron curtain helping newly privatized small businesses. He found that a key obstacle to their ability to grow and succeed was access to capital.
A heart disease survivor, Chris has served as a volunteer and board member of the American Heart Association since 2011. In Chris, we have an entrepreneurial leader who brings more than 25 years of experience developing and leading global organizations through periods of high growth and impact. Most recently, Chris served as CEO of Vivino and StubHub, where he was acclaimed for building employee and customer-driven organizations. Chris brings a rare mix of deep and relevant experience matched with a drive to make a meaningful difference in the world, especially in the lives of Kiva’s employees, lenders, and borrowers.
Silvija has a lifelong passion for the economic empowerment of underserved communities. Her reasons for seeking to leverage her experience in investing, lending, and building digital and mobile-first marketplaces in service to Kiva are at once meaningful and inspiring. This is in part born of her own life experience growing up in Croatia during communism and immigrating on her own to the U.S. at the age of 17 after the Balkan wars. When a nonprofit organization financed her education with a scholarship, this set her on a course that changed her life and her family’s in Croatia.
Today, Silvija is the Chief Commercial Officer of Affirm Inc., whose mission is to deliver honest financial products that improve lives. Previously, Silvija was the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Marketing Officer of Groupon's international business. While at Groupon, Silvija partnered with Kiva. At her telling, that’s when she “fell in love” with Kiva’s mission. Previously, she spent a decade investing in socially-responsible, female and minority-owned businesses.
As we now pass the baton of CEO leadership from Neville to Chris, and welcome Silvija to Kiva’s Board, I could not be more optimistic about our ability to scale Kiva’s impact and to continue to deliver on our shared vision of a financially inclusive world where all people have the power to improve their lives.
With gratitude and in service,
Kiva Executive Chair
On behalf of Kiva’s Board of Directors, Maya Chorengal, Andre Haddad, Reid Hoffman, and John Muller.