Thank you – a letter from Premal Shah, Kiva Co-founder & President


Kiva community,

After 13 years serving as Kiva’s Co-founder and President, I’ve decided to shift out of operational responsibilities to a new Senior Advisor role.

I continue to deeply believe in Kiva and am grateful that we have an exceptional CEO and leadership team in place to continue our important work.  At this stage in my personal journey, I’m also excited to return to my entrepreneurial roots and clear space for new ways to contribute to social change.

I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to you all.  You helped bring Kiva to life, and your commitment to expanding empathy and opportunity around the world has inspired me daily and transformed my own life profoundly.  To the extraordinary entrepreneurs around the world whom I had the privilege to personally meet on this journey, thank you for welcoming me into your communities, businesses, and homes.  You’ve taught me unforgettable lessons on work, faith, love, and more.

When Matt Flannery, Jessica Jackley, Chelsa Bocci & I founded Kiva, we could have never imagined being a part of such a vibrant and enduring community committed to human flourishing everywhere.

As of today, nearly 5 million Kiva lenders and entrepreneurs from over 150 countries have come together as partners. Over $1 billion has been altruistically crowdfunded -- 96% of which has been repaid.  That’s something we can all, as a community, be proud of -- and yet, there’s so much more good work to do.

I’m confident this community and organization will rise in new ways to meet the challenge of the 1.7 billion people still unbanked.  I’d like to specifically thank Kiva’s new CEO, Neville Crawley, whose capable leadership over the last year gave me the confidence to even contemplate this transition.  I’d also like to extend my gratitude to the entire Kiva team for their commitment and stewardship moving forward.  I know Kiva is in great hands. 

Fourteen years ago, before Kiva started, I was a confused volunteer working in a slum in India when I saw this quote by Lilla Watson:

“If you’ve come here to help me, then you are wasting your time.  But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”


This spoke to something in my soul that I was struggling to articulate then, and it continues to have deep resonance now. At our core, Kiva highlights what all humans have in common: goals, dreams and hopes for a better future. It reshapes stories of poverty into stories of entrepreneurship and this helps all of us connect as equals across wealth and geographic divides. 

Our fates, our futures, and our liberation are indeed bound together.  Only by fully honoring everyone’s dignity do we ourselves become truly free.  This community has proven what’s possible when we work together.  

Thank you for co-creating this very hopeful corner of the internet.

With deepest gratitude,

Premal


If you'd like to send a message or some Kiva Love to Premal, please email community@kiva.org and we'll make sure he receives it.


About the author

Premal Shah

Premal Shah leads Kiva.org, a website that allows you to lend $25 to the working poor. Since 2005, Kiva lenders have financed over 1 million low-income entrepreneurs from 75 countries, with a 98% repayment rate. The site has been named as one of Oprah's Favorite Things and a Top 50 Website by TIME Magazine. Premal’s inspiration for Kiva came in 2004. Working for several years at PayPal, he took 2 months off to volunteer in India. There he worked with low-income women to help them sell handcrafts online. While the project had mixed results, it strengthened his belief that the right combination of technology, business and love can dramatically accelerate opportunity for those most left out. Today with a burgeoning community of 1 million Kiva lenders, this belief becomes more of a reality each day. For his work as a social entrepreneur, Premal was named on FORTUNE magazine’s “Top 40 under 40″ list. Premal is a graduate of Stanford University.