Kiva.org: Crowd-Sourced Microfinance and Cooperation in Group Lending
Scott E. Hartley
Stanford University; Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard Law School
March 25, 2010
Altruistic peer-to-peer lending, or crowd-sourced Internet microfinance, exposes a unique environment in which to observe cooperative behavior. Geographically diverse individuals coordinate to provide capital to others in need, often for minimal, or in the case of Kiva.org, zero financial return. While significant microfinance research has chronicled the windfalls of group borrowing in organizations such as Grameen Bank, little has been written on the cooperative dynamics of group lending, observing crowd-sourced microfinance and what online organizational structures facilitate cooperation.
At the end of 2008 Kiva.org announced the creation of “Lending Teams,” or cohesive open or closed membership groups established and categorized according to scope. These Lending Teams introduce forms of cooperative many-to-one and many-to-many group lending, based on tenuous concepts of identity. Groups vary according to category, size, scope, and activity, and this impacts participatory vitality of crowd-sourced lending.
The “Kiva.org: Crowd-Sourced Microfinance and Lending Team Cooperative Behavior” study focuses on evaluating the extent to which Solidarity as a design-lever impacts social behavior. Looking specifically at Kiva.org as a prominent community for peer-to-peer lending, this study seeks to evaluate the advent of “Lending Teams,” their subsequent impact on group lending behavior, and the extent to which group openness, size, and categorization substantively alters online cooperative behavior.
Based on Kiva.org data accessed through their public Application Programming Interface (API) in June 2009, this study qualitatively and quantitatively observes 120 Lending Teams. The study provides taxonomy of Lending Teams, and outlines key management choices that can foster greater in-group solidarity, and expand Lending Team participation on Kiva.org. More broadly, the study prescribes how online solidarity can improve participation in crowd-sourced microfinance.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 82
Keywords: Kiva, Microfinance, Peer-To-Peer, Lending, Economic Development, Crowd Source, Grameen
JEL Classification: A13, D64, D71, D82, G24, L31, O10, O16
Date posted: March 26, 2010