My design expertise lies in the digital realm, creating experiences that unfold as web sites, iPhone apps, or video games, so it’s rare that I see my work in a tangible format like print. But in the past few months we’ve had the opportunity at Kiva to release a few high profile print advertisements that appeared in Variety Magazine, USA Today, as well as one of our own mailers. These pieces not only increased Kiva’s exposure outside the digital medium, but they’ve also helped establish one of our core design principals: story telling.
It’s been a little over two months since I started working at Kiva. In that time I’ve polished a number of small elements around the site but nothing felt substantial enough to brag about. Yesterday, that changed with the launch of Kiva’s invite challenge – a major portion of which was designed by yours truly. The promotion allows Kiva users to invite friends to make a free $25 loan on the site. Response to the free trials have been huge – with over 8,000 invites handed out in under 30 hours (demand was so great that Kiva doubled the initial allocation of 4,000 trials).
Last week I began a daily commute to the Mission to work as Senior Visual and Interaction Designer at Kiva.org. A little over five years ago I learned about Kiva, a micro lending website, and have been using the site ever since. The website allows a person – usually based in the developed world – to lend money to an entrepreneur in the developing world. Kiva’s mission always struck me as the embodiment of the egalitarian promise the Internet’s creators always envisioned. So when an opportunity to join the company as their first full time designer came up, I jumped at the chance.
The ability for the internet to directly connect people across the globe has begun a unique form of alleviating poverty called micro-lending. Leading this revolution is San Francisco based Kiva.org, which provides person-to-person lending in the developing world. This means that anyone can provide a loan of as little as $25 to a farmer is Cambodia or a grocery store owner in Samoa. By harnessing the power of the internet Kiva has been able to attack poverty and global economic imbalances by providing direct economic stimulus to small business and entrepreneurs within the developing world.
Kiva has partnered with local organizations to identify potential recipients of a micro loan and then distribute these loans. These entrepreneurs profiled on the Kiva website with descriptions of the individual or group, as well as their business and the proposed use for the funds. Then users like you or me can select a business to make a loan to. Loans typically end up being provided by a combination of lenders which make up the $500 to $1500 requested by the recipient.