Credit-card company Visa is giving back – and its philanthropic efforts may give a boost to would-be entrepreneurs.
Visa is gifting $1 million to Kiva, a microlending company that has provided loans to more than 400,000 entrepreneurs in 54 countries. Kiva is expanding its reach in the U.S. by funding startups in the Gulf Coast region, which is still recovering after being ravaged by Hurricane Katrina five years ago.
"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 president Premal Shah said in a statement.
Microlending has proven extremely successful in the developing world. Companies like Grameen Bank – founded by economist Mohammed Yunus, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his involvement in microlending – and SKS Microfinance have demonstrated that there is strong demand for tiny loans abroad.
Now, the microlending market may expand in the U.S., too.
"For many small business owners," Visa group executive William Sheedy said, "a microloan can have an immediate impact and be a critical catalyst for their long-term success."