MATT FLANNERY, Co-Founder and CEO, Kiva Microfunds

“Dedicated, well-informed individuals are the most powerful change agents. Our lenders become more informed about the challenges and opportunities their global neighbours face.”

Matt Flannery is a pioneer of peer-to-peer micro-lending to promote sustainable livelihoods.  With former wife Jessica Jackley, in 2005 the couple founded the hugely successful Kiva Microfunds, “the world’s largest crowdfunding platform for social good.”

In early 2004, Matt and Jessica, now divorced, spent part of the year working in rural Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda – Jessica as a staff member with Village Enterprise Fund (VEF,, and Matt as a documentary filmmaker.  Matt had a thirst for African history and a background as a Silicon Valley engineer, while Jessica was conducting impact surveys and reporting on case studies.  As they witnessed the impact of successful businesses on their communities, Matt and Jessica became passionate about sharing entrepreneurs’ inspirational success stories.  At the same time they realised there was no existing structure to allow average-income people to lend small amounts to support the projects of indigenous entrepreneurs.  After a year of meetings with a range of experts, hearing diverging opinions about how they might set up such a framework, many questions remained unanswered but they made the decision to begin.  In late 2004 Matt began a side-project to build the platform that would become Kiva, based on software enabling individuals to provide business loans to the working poor. He originated the idea of small business sponsorship via charitable loans, and Kiva became the first company to implement the system.

A turning point came when Matt was discussing micro-loans with the head of VEF, at same time a text came in requesting a loan to a rural Ugandan farmer.  “We started out in March 2005 trying to finance five businesses. After this was quite successful, we got crushed in October, because demand for new financing possibilities was incredibly high. After weeks and months of intensive work we [were] able to fulfill most of the demands, and additional partnerships help us to become stronger each day.” Officially founded in October 2005, quickly took off and helped launch a global movement of economic growth and independence.  Jessica served as Kiva’s Chief Marketing Officer during its formative years and has her own amazing story, also featured here in The Future Makers.  In December 2005 Matt left his job as programmer at TiVo to manage the development of Kiva, and today he remains at the helm as the organisation continues to improve living standards for rural families and communities in nearly 70 countries.

Additional Quotes

“Micro credit is an effective tool in fighting poverty. Small loans used for business growth encourage self-respect, accountability, and hope among loan recipients.”

“In February 2006 we were able to match 17.000 USD in 4 days. That shows that we were able to scale our model quite a bit already.”

About KIVA

In recent years Kiva has embraced its home country and is currently empowering small business in a growing number of American cities by forming partnerships between governmental and financial institutions.  In January 2013, the Kiva City initiative launched in Washington D.C., now with chapters in Detroit, Los Angeles, and Little Rock, announced by President Bill Clinton in March.  Also in March 2013, to great fanfare, the number of Kiva borrowers surpassed one million, and the total amount lent via the platform went over $400 million.


Country: USA

Type of Education: BS in Symbolic Systems and Masters in Philosophy, Stanford University

Awards: Skoll Awardee; Ashoka and Draper Richards Kaplan Fellow; Fortune Magazine’s “Top 40 under 40″ list (2009);  The Economist “No Boundaries” Innovation Award (2011)

Foundation Affiliation: Skoll; Ashoka; Draper Richards Kaplan

Pathway to Impact: Path of Effect

Impact Area/s: Security – Personal safety, secure resource access; Basic Material Needs – Adequate livelihood, sufficient nutritious food, shelter, access to goods; Social Relations – Social cohesion, mutual respect, ability to help others; Freedom of Choice and Action

Organisation Type: Non-profit, Social Enterprise

Facts & Figures: As o of 21 April 2013:  Total amount lent through Kiva- $424,465,950; Kiva Users- 1,403,627; Kiva Users who have funded a loan- 922,375; Borrowers funded through Kiva- 1,024,942; Number of loans made through Kiva- 549,845; Kiva Field Partners – 191; Countries where Kiva Field Partners are located -67; Repayment rate – 99.03%; Average loan size- $404.88; Average loans made per Kiva lender – 9.44 []

Other Media

How Kiva Works

About the author Charles Blass

Charles is a media advisor with experience as a copy writer, journalist, broadcaster and content developer. Charles founded Lovevolv Inc, a non-profit arts and education company, and co-founded the LiveWired music network. Current activities include editing digital media and business writings, teaching English, mind-mapping, and producing two Zurich-based radio programs. See


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