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Passing the baton: A letter from Kiva's CEO Neville Crawley

“We have to take the baton when it is passed to us, and run as hard and fast as we can, and then pass it on to someone else.”

Dear Kiva community,

As we enter the spring of 2021, I am struck by how quickly the year is progressing. With the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the United States, I am personally excited to gather again with family and friends, travel, and think more actively about plans for the future.

I have been doing much reflection on what the future holds for me, and have reached a deeply personal and professional decision — that it is time for me to pass on the baton of Kiva’s leadership.

I have had a truly wonderful, entrepreneurial three and half years at Kiva and am very pleased with the solid foundation we have built and the positive trajectory for innovation, growth, and further impact we are on. Because of this, I am now able to pass the CEO baton in a smooth and orderly way that will best support Kiva’s continuing impact in the world.

Why am I leaving Kiva?

Whenever I have interviewed anyone to join Kiva my two key interview questions have been “What gives you energy and what drains your energy?” and “Tell me about when you went from one thing to the next what was in your heart when you made that decision?”

To speak to these two questions here:

Ultimately, I have realized that what gives me the most energy as a leader are periods of intensive renewal, change, and reinvention. This has really been the story arc of my career: when there is something new and valuable to be uncovered but it is not quite clear what it is or how to do it. These are the types of companies and organizational problems and opportunities that are uniquely energizing for me.

When I joined Kiva I certainly felt this was the case: that there was more expansive impact for Kiva to unlock, and that I had something unique to contribute to help catalyze realizing this impact. As I sit here today, I am immensely proud of having been part of what has been a very successful wave of renewal, innovation, growth, and impact over the past few years, and feel extremely confident that this growth and impact will continue.

I feel we have made great progress across a number of dimensions, including: the health, vitality, and depth of impact of; launch of our new Impact Lines Kiva Capital and Kiva Protocol; our financial sustainability; our product and technology development; the breadth and depth of our partnerships, and our increased focus on and investments in DEI.

I am particularly proud that we have brought Kiva Capital to life as a truly impact-first asset manager with multiple groundbreaking funds such as the Kiva Refugee Investment Fund and the California Rebuilding Fund. In parallel, the progress we have made with Kiva Protocol in developing a safe, secure, digital identity system that has the potential to deliver true systems change for the billions of people that are unbanked.

This gives me great confidence that Kiva will continue to thrive and is now in a position to enter a new era of unlocking innovation, growth, and impact at a mass scale. We are also moving out of the moment where I can most uniquely and catalytically contribute.

Having had the opportunity to meet with borrowers, to meet with lenders, to build relationships with volunteers and key funders, has been immensely meaningful to me and I feel incredibly grateful to have been a part of the Kiva journey. I have so many fond memories of amazing, powerful, and touching Kiva moments which I am deeply grateful for having experienced. Kiva is a truly unique place that I am deeply proud to have been part of, and I know that I will always have a strong connection here. As the saying goes: Once a Kivan, always a Kivan.

I also would like to thank Kiva’s Board for their deep partnership over the past years, with particular thanks to Julie Hanna, Kiva’s Executive Board Chair, for her trust, partnership and guidance as we have navigated many changes, and to also thank all of Kiva’s employees past, present and future for being part of building this incredible institution and working together to end financial exclusion.

I’ll finish up this post with one of my favorite quotes from Theodore Shaw, the civil rights law professor, on how to contribute to a cause that matters to you:

“We have to take the baton when it is passed to us and run as hard and fast as we can and then pass it on to someone else.”

Thank you to everyone who has touched Kiva for having had me be part of the Kiva journey, and thank you for your support and understanding as I now pass the baton. I will, of course, eagerly be cheering on all of you as Kiva achieves broader and deeper impact across the globe.

With deep gratitude,

Neville Crawley
Kiva CEO


Read a letter from Kiva's Executive Chair of the Board, Julie Hanna, announcing our new CEO.

About the author

Neville Crawley

Neville joined Kiva as CEO in the fall of 2017. He brings nearly two decades of experience leading global business and technology ventures, most recently as the CEO of Quid, a platform that analyzes the world's collective intelligence to help answer strategic questions. During Neville’s career he has worked in China, Nigeria, Brazil, Malaysia and across the Middle East, including 4 years working for McKinsey & Company and as the publisher of China Economic Review. These experiences and his passion for technology and service led Neville to Kiva. He is dedicated to serving Kiva’s mission and delivering ‘loans that change lives’ on the largest possible scale and with maximum impact. Neville graduated in studio arts from Manchester Metropolitan University, studied Chinese at SOAS University of London, and holds an M.B.A. from London Business School.