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> Posted by Jeffrey Riecke, Communications Assistant, CFI

For many of us in the U.S., it’s largely happenstance that we cross paths with the topics of microfinance and financial inclusion in a meaningful way. Personally, I remember first hearing about microfinance from friends during college, but it was always in passing, never to the extent or specificity needed for it to make a lasting impression on me. I wish this wasn’t the case! I wish my college self, and all students for that matter, had more exposure to these areas.

To help students and the U.S. academic community engage with microfinance and financial inclusion, Citi Microfinance and Kiva have teamed up to launch Kiva U. The mission of Kiva U, built around three core initiatives, is to create a community for our future inclusion leaders and to support the expansion of full financial inclusion. There’s a big opportunity in the combination of modern communications technology and academia’s inherently social environment, though few interactive financial inclusion platforms for students and educators exist. Kiva U aims to gain popularity as such a platform.

The three core initiatives of Kiva U are expand campus-based microfinance clubs, develop classroom-based microfinance and financial inclusion curriculum for all learning levels, and foster leadership among students interested in social enterprise, international development, and financial inclusion.

There are currently Kiva clubs at 67 colleges and 60 high schools in the United States. Providing online and offline engagement tools, Kiva U plans to leverage this foundation and connect with additional students and educators throughout the country’s academic community.

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> Posted by JD Bergeron, Kiva Sr. Director of Social Performance and Alyssa McGarry, Kiva Community Outreach Team

Kiva prides itself on its ability to provide financial services to low-income individuals and those who do not have access to typical banking services. We strive to impact the most vulnerable, and our model allows us to focus attention on groups and individuals that might not be served otherwise. One group that are typically among the most marginalized are people with disabilities. Kiva acknowledges that people with disabilities exist in all cultures of the world and we are proud that our community is taking strides to better support them.

The Kiva community recognizes that disabilities need not limit one’s desire or ability to hold a job, impact the community, or become financially independent. Kiva and our Field Partners support entrepreneurial spirit. We embrace a world where all people – even in the most remote areas of the globe – hold the power to create opportunity for themselves and others.

Kiva Lending Teams Focused on Disabilities

Kiva’s community has already formed a number of Lending Teams that give loans primarily to people with disabilities and their families. The largest is KivaFriends – Disabled Persons . This group has 100 members and has lent a combined $29,700, with an impressive 11.7 loans on average per member. KivaFriends – Disabled Persons is a community of people interested in making a difference for entrepreneurs and families who are affected by illness or physical, intellectual, or psychiatric disability. They also support caregivers and entrepreneurs involved in the medical profession. Read the rest of this entry »

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Credit Suisse is a founding sponsor of the Center for Financial Inclusion. The Credit Suisse Group Foundation looks to its philanthropic partners to foster research, innovation and constructive dialogue in order to spread best practices and develop new solutions for financial inclusion.

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The views and opinions expressed on this blog, except where otherwise noted, are those of the authors and guest bloggers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Financial Inclusion or its affiliates.
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