SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 20, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Kiva.org, the world's first personal micro-lending website, and Visa Inc. (NYSE: V), a global payments technology company, today announced a partnership to help U.S. small businesses access and benefit from microloans. Supported by a $1 million contribution from Visa, the partnership expands the reach of Kiva's pioneering microlending model within the United States to further empower small businesses and support job creation. The announcement coincides with a major Kiva expansion in the Gulf Coast through the addition of ACCION Texas-Louisiana, the largest microfinance institution in the country, to the Kiva Field Partners network.
"Small business growth is crucial to stimulating job creation in the U.S. and small loans make a big difference," said Premal Shah, President of Kiva.org. "We see this partnership with Visa as a meaningful opportunity to empower small business owners and help revive the U.S. economy, starting with a region in urgent need."
Kiva is a pioneer in using the internet to connect small businesses, individuals and microfinance institutions worldwide. The Kiva Visa partnership will focus on expanding this model to better serve small businesses within the United States, including building the awareness, understanding and availability of microloans. Initiatives within the partnership include: a collaborative effort to drive awareness and understanding of microfinance for small businesses, building the features and capacity of Kiva's microlending platform to increase capacity to support U.S. small businesses and a joint study to address gaps in research in the marketplace of microfinance in the U.S.
"This partnership advances a shared mission of both Visa and Kiva: helping small businesses grow and ultimately create jobs," said William Sheedy, Group Executive, Americas for Visa Inc. "For many small business owners, a microloan can have an immediate impact and be a critical catalyst for their long-term success."
The Kiva expansion into the Gulf Region comes one year after the organization launched a pilot in the U.S., allowing individuals across the globe to make small loans to U.S. entrepreneurs through its field partners, ACCION USA and Opportunity Fund. Since then, Kiva has facilitated more than $1 million in loans to U.S. small businesses.Working with ACCION Texas-Louisiana, Kiva lenders, for the first time, will be able to lend to entrepreneurs who have been affected by several disasters in the region over the past five years.
"The Gulf Coast has been hit hard by the economic recession and several disasters," said Janie Barrera, founding president and CEO of ACCION Texas-Louisiana. "Small businesses are critical to recovery and with Kiva lenders we will be able to invest in even more entrepreneurs."
To learn more about the Kiva partnership with Visa, visit kiva.org/visa.
Kiva.org is the world's first personal micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. Founded in 2005, Kiva.org's mission is to connect people, through lending, to alleviate poverty. Over 487,000 people have loaned more than $165 million to 428,000 entrepreneurs in 54 countries. Kiva.org is headquartered in San Francisco.
Visa is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions and governments in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable digital currency. Underpinning digital currency is one of the world's most advanced processing networks--VisaNet--that is capable of handling more than 10,000 transactions a second, with fraud protection for consumers and guaranteed payment for merchants. Visa is not a bank and does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers. Visa's innovations, however, enable its financial institution customers to offer consumers more choices: pay now with debit, ahead of time with prepaid or later with credit products. For more information, visit https://www.corporate.visa.com.
About ACCION Texas-Louisiana
Founded in 1994, ACCION Texas-Louisiana is the nation's largest 501(c) (3) non-profit loan fund and has provided $100 million in more than 11,000 loans. Its mission is to provide loans to small business owners who cannot secure access to commercial credit. With 10 offices throughout the state and four in Louisiana, ACCION Texas-Louisiana helps micro entrepreneurs strengthen their businesses, stabilize and increase their incomes, create additional employment and contribute to the economic revitalization of their communities. ACCION Texas-Louisiana is a member of the ACCION Network which also includes ACCION USA, ACCION New York, ACCION New Mexico, ACCION Chicago and ACCION San Diego. More information on ACCION Texas-Louisiana may be found at https://www.acciontexas.org.
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SOURCE: Visa Inc.