Passport Series: Kiva partners make great strides in Lebanon

Decades of intermittent unrest and reconstruction have left Lebanon's economy deep in debt and relatively unstable. We're proud that Kiva's presence in the country has helped -- even in just small ways -- to rebuild the economy via small business growth. 

To date, Kiva lenders have made nearly 7,500 loans totaling over $9.5 million in Lebanon via two local microfinance partners.

The Al Majmoua Lebanese Association for Development is the leading microfinance institution in Lebanon in terms of the number of clients it serves. One reason that it was selected as a Kiva partner was its holistic approach to development.

Moufdel took out a $1,000 loan to do necessary maintenance on his cement blending machine.

In addition to providing clients with microcredit, staff members also offer business development, management, and financial education training. Awareness sessions cover women’s economic rights, self-confidence, communication skills, and household budget management techniques. This means that results of Al Majmoua’s work are not only economic but social too -- addressing women’s empowerment and improving living conditions. 

Our other Lebanese field partner, Vitas s.a.l., has been a major player in their microfinance sector since 1999, and since then has disbursed loans totaling more than $130 million.

In addition to providing small business loans, Vitas also offers housing loans and consumer loans that cover vital personal uses like weddings, automobile purchases, education, and healthcare -- things that too many people are forced to sacrifice due to poverty. In addition to Kiva, Vitas also partners with USAID, Cisco, Relief International, and OPIC to reach as many clients as possible.

One particularly interesting characteristic of loans in Lebanon is that -- contrary to Kiva’s portfolio as a whole -- borrowers served are largely male. On average, 74% of any one of our partner’s Kiva loans are to women, while only 26 to 28% are for women in Lebanon -- a substantial discrepancy.

One possible reason for this is that it is difficult for women in Lebanon to find guarantors for their loans -- making them much more likely to take out group loans. With a group loan, the borrower does not need a guarantor because all the group members share liability. But Al Majmoua only started offering group loans at the end of 2012 -- which is why such a large percentage of their borrowers are men. This is a great example of a Kiva partner changing its approach to have a greater social impact.

5 women in the Katia Group each received $300 to increase their livestock.

With the introduction of group loans, the percentage of women reached by Kiva loans in Lebanon should continue to steadily increase.

One group that both Al Majmoua and Vitas successfully target is youth -- they have loaned to nearly 500 young borrowers between them. This is especially important in the Middle East where unemployment among young people is sky high, occasionally contributing to unrest. Many people are also forced to leave their families and communities at a young age to find work elsewhere, even abroad, which has a detrimental effect across the board. We're excited to see youth lending picking up as a trend, particularly in Lebanon where it can make an even bigger impact.

A $900 loan helped Rabih buy equipment for his auto repair business. He wants to develop his business so his future children don't need to start working at a young age like he did.

Make a loan to a borrower in Lebanon today.

For some inspiring success stories from Lebanese Kiva borrowers, check out the third and final installment of this month’s Passport Series next week.

Questions about lending in Lebanon? Send them our way at

About the author

Emily Wakefield

A native of southern California, Emily is a recent graduate from Santa Clara University where she studied Economics and Spanish Studies. The highlight of her college experience was the semester she spent abroad in Granada, Spain. She knew she wanted to pursue a career in economic development after reading Half the Sky. Emily will be joining the Marketing and Communications team as a Blog and Social Media Intern and is especially excited to find new and creative ways to spread Kiva’s work to more people. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, listening to country music, and re-watching Friends episodes for the millionth time.