Monday, August 03, 2009

I just made an educational microloan!

As someone with three kids in college, I'm used to the idea of educational loans. My kids are borrowing money; I'm borrowing money. It's the American way of higher education!

Outside the U.S., educational loans are not so common. And, education is the way out of poverty.

This weekend, I made my first educational microloan, to Claudia Belén García Royz of Nicaragua, who is studying to be an industrial engineer.

This loan was the result of a conversation I had with Kushal Chakrabarti, the founder of the Vittana Foundation. Multiple people had connected me with Kushal, including my brother Tom, who worked at Amazon with Kushal.

Kushal described Vittana as "Kiva for educational loans." It makes a lot of sense to me. I'm not alone. Every student so far that has posted a loan need has had willing lenders snap up the offering quickly (in under 30 hours over the weekend). Kushal's challenge is actually finding more microcredit institutions in the developing world with qualified students who need loans. This is not a typical product for microcredit groups, but it makes a lot of sense.

Oh, and Vittana needs financial support for its operations as it scales up to viability.

This is what I think about when I dream about Raising the Floor with technology: finding ways to meet society's most pressing problems with the brains and resources of the tech community. Kushal is a great example of that, and I look forward to tracking the success of Vittana!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Jim, you are my hero. Thank you for doing what you do. You inspire me to do good in the world and to commit my life's work to advancing a humanitarian world society. I am an education professor and will use your story to illustrate that (literacy, technology, thinking) skills and knowledge can be, and perhaps should be, employed to advance social justice rather than merely to consume knowledge and material wealth. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hello Jim,

Good work, keep it up. Is a link to Kushal possible? Nigeria in the midst of enormous wealth is beset by massive poverty,poverty reduction through education and skill empowerment is a sure solution. I will like to deploy the VIATANA type solution for Nigeria, hence the request for Kushal's contact details.

Jim Fruchterman said...

Hey, Anon. I'm sure Kushal would be interested in talking to Nigerian microcredit organizations that think they have clients who would be interested in education loans. If you sent me an email to president at benetech dot org, I'll forward it to him and he can follow up if he's interested.