Aug 11, 2009
By Gerard Niemira
Some Loans May Look a Little Different

One word you’ll constantly hear around the Kiva office is “efficiency.” It’s a key theme at Kiva because the more efficient we can be, the more loans can get funded on the website, and the more we can achieve our social mission.

We’re going to try an experiment in the coming weeks: we’ll be allowing some loan requests to be posted to the website without an English translation.

How does this help Kiva be more efficient? There is a cost to having every loan request translated to English. While Kiva doesn’t pay outright for the translations (each translation is done by a team of hundreds of amazing volunteers!) it is a process that needs to be managed internally at Kiva. As more and more loan requests arrive at Kiva, we are looking to manage our growing volunteer team more and more efficiently. What does this means for the non-translated loans? The loans that are allowed to be posted without translation will not be in English. Lenders who understand these non-English languages will be unaffected, but if you don’t understand these languages you might look up an online translation service like Google Translator (http://translate.google.com/) or Babel Fish (http://babelfish.yahoo.com/ ) to help you understand the loan request. Or you might choose not to lend to this entrepreneur.

What happens now? We’ll be analyzing what happens with the non-translated loans to see if they are funded at the same rate, faster, or slower, than translated loan requests, as well as collecting information from lenders on how this impacts their experience on the website. After the experiment we’ll decide if this is an approach we might continue..

If you have any feedback or comments on this experiment, please write to contactus@kiva.org and let us know what you think.

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Gerard manages Kiva's Partner Product Team, working on tools for Kiva's Field Partners, staff and volunteers. His passion for social enterprise led him to Kiva in 2008 after a stint in Washington, DC working for First Book, a nonprofit organization that distributes new books to programs serving children from low-income households. Gerard graduated with a B.A. in History from St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, NY and now lives in Oakland, CA.

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