Tech Helps Kiva's Loans Aid Global Small Businesses In Getting Out of Poverty

Want to help fund a small business in a developing country? Take a look at how Pam Yanchik Connealy and Kiva are using tech to fund entrepreneurs all over the world.

Pam is the CFO of Kiva, a revolutionary crowdfunding platform that provides loans to the working poor, particularly in third world countries.

From a woman opening up a dress store in Lebanon to a man in Guatemala investing in a herd of cattle, Kiva lets people get together to donate money to help support small businesses.

Why is Kiva important?

“Kiva is focused around eliminating and reducing financial exclusion globally.” -Pam Yanchik Connealy

Although we don’t have to worry about losing our identity in developed first world countries, not everybody is as fortunate.

For a lot of governments, most identification documents are paper and easily lost or the person just never had any identification documents.

For instance, when Haiti was hit by Hurricane Matthew, a lot of their paper documents were destroyed and since that’s all there was, things quickly became chaotic. Because there were no documents, everything was suddenly up for grabs--some people lost everything.

Refugees are also among those most affected. Often, they have to give up everything, including their identity, to flee.

The result?

Without an established identity, it can be difficult for these people to start a business and get out of poverty. Often, they have no credit or even identification that they can take to the bank to get a loan with.

That’s where Kiva comes in. Using blockchain technology, they’re able to build a platform that lets users crowdfund businesses for compromised people, allowing them to start or grow their own businesses. Eventually, this lets them build an identity that then enables them to use the banks in their country.

How Do They Do It?

“When I first came to Kiva, people would say, ‘Are we a nonprofit? Are we a social impact organization? Are we financial services? Are we high-tech?’ and I would say ‘Yes, we’re all of those’.” -Pam Yanchik Connealy

The true beauty of Kiva is that they’re not just a nonprofit. Rather, they’ve opened themselves up to the possibility of several different sectors and embraced them all. By taking on the mantle of nonprofit, social impact organization, financial institute, and tech powerhouse, they’re able to do things no one else can.

What’s their secret, you might ask? NetSuite.

“I’m not sure how we could be doing new products and new initiatives if I didn't have a core financial system like NetSuite in place to make me sleep better at night.” -Pam Yanchik Connealy

By using an Enterprise Resource Planning software like NetSuite as the core of their system, Kiva is able to combine several systems onto one cohesive platform that they then use to power the business.

With the help of their unique team of engineers, Kiva is able to effectively build interfaces between microfinance institutions in some of the poorest countries in the world and their own core systems and NetSuite, allowing them to bring about significant change in struggling countries.

What’s It Like to Work at an Organization Without NetSuite?

As far as Pam is concerned, Kiva wouldn’t be the same without NetSuite. A veteran of the social impact field, she’s done her fair share of time working at companies that don’t have a robust ERP system in place. This results in:

  • More work for the employees
  • A lack of cohesivity across departments
  • High risk if an employee leads because there’s no documentation to refer to
  • A massive headache

Is ERP software a Good Investment for a Small Business?

“One of the things I've always appreciated about NetSuite is being able to put something in that does have a nice lightweight footprint, that could work for both a smaller organization and a large organization.” -Pam Yanchik Connealy

Whether a business has 500 or 5,000 employees, it’s still a good idea to have a solid ERP in place. Not only will it help keep things organized and productive, but it will also help streamline growth and make it as painless as possible.

“Figuring out how to make an investment in a system that will scale with you, that will allow for the appropriate internal controls, like NetSuite,” says Pam, “is a really good thing to think through.”

The Takeaway

  • Kiva is combating financial inequality by providing loans to the working poor
  • They are able to accomplish this unique mission by embracing aspects of several sectors
  • Using an ERP like NetSuite gives them a solid foundation on which they can grow