Monday, March 03, 2014

Help me distribute $100,000 to new entrepreneurs in Africa

I love the idea of microlending, small loans of a few hundred dollars made to entrepreneurs in impoverished areas so that they can start or grow businesses of their own, helping them to achieve financial independence. The unfortunate reality though is that many microlending programs charge surprisingly high interest rates, pushing entrepreneurs deeper into debt. This is because early microlending sites such as Kiva outsource loan management to local banks, which charge interest rates that average 35%, and go as high as 88%! I would be uncomfortable charging those rates to wealthy Americans, but asking poor people in Africa to pay that makes me feel like some kind of third-world loan shark.

That's why I'm excited to have Zidisha as one of our most recent Y Combinator funded non-profit organizations. Zidisha uses modern technology and a global network of volunteers to enable direct person-to-person lending, cutting out the middle-man and bringing loan overhead down to a more affordable 5% interest rate. Just as Airbnb connects travelers directly to hosts, Zidisha connects lenders directly to borrowers, providing not only an affordable loan, but also a personal connection, so that people are able to exchange progress updates, photos, and more. I'm a big believer in the idea that personal connections across economic and cultural divides can go a long way towards uniting all people in peace and prosperity. It's one of the big reasons that I've invested in AirBnb, Watsi (our first non-profit startup), and now Zidisha.

Zidisha is already changing lives and transforming communities. Here's a photo of Pherister Ndoge, who used a loan from Zidisha to help expand and improve her school in Kenya.

But Zidisha is still relatively new, and although they now have a record number of fundraising entrepreneurs, most people have never heard of them. We need your help raising awareness, so I've offered to donate $10 for every tweet, retweet, or Facebook share linking to Zidisha and using the #zidisha hashtag, up to a total of $100,000. That $10 goes towards funding the entrepreneur of your choice, and all of the loan repayments will be donated towards continuing to grow the Zidisha platform.

Here's how to help:

Go to Zidisha and choose an entrepreneur you think deserves support, click on the entrepreneur's photo to open their profile page, then click on the Zidisha campaign banner at the top of the profile page to share the profile URL via Facebook or Twitter.


Simply tweet: Help send $100,000 to new entrepreneurs in Africa with @ZidishaInc. $10 donated for every tweet or RT: #zidisha


View our post on Facebook, then click the "Share" link.

You should also check out the Zidisha website and read the inspiring story of why Julia Kurnia founded Zidisha.

Join the discussion on Hack News.