Table of Contents

General Kiva Zip Questions

What is Kiva Zip?

Kiva Zip is part of Kiva. It is a project through which lenders make microfinance loans directly to borrowers in the U.S. via the Internet. Kiva Zip was launched as a pilot in November 2011 and moved into its Alpha testing phase in September 2012.

What are the aims for Kiva Zip?

There are three principal aims for Kiva Zip:

  1. Expand financial opportunities and access for borrowers who otherwise lack them
  2. Reduce the cost of capital for borrowers who need it
  3. Enhance the connectedness between lenders and borrowers

Where will Kiva Zip be located?

Kiva Zip currently serves borrowers in the U.S. We chose the U.S. because we believe that we can foster meaningful connections between borrowers and lenders. In the future, we hope to see the Kiva Zip model expand into other geographies.

How small is a “small” pilot project?

As of the end of August 2015, the Kiva Zip pilot had disbursed loans to more than 11,000 borrowers with the support of our community of 60,000+ lenders. This compares to over 900,000 loans made on Kiva to-date by over 1,000,000 Kiva lenders.

What are Conversations?

Conversations are a way for borrowers, lenders and Trustees to interact with each other directly on the Kiva Zip platform. On each loan page there is a section beneath the name called conversations. Here you can read up on updates from the borrower or Trustee and send words of encouragement as a lender.

Who can participate in conversations?

Anyone can view the conversations tab for any given loan. However, only the borrower, Trustee, lenders, and Kiva Zip administrators may post content. Once the loan is fully funded, the conversation tab will remain open for the participants.

What are some guidelines for posting in conversations?

Your rights and responsibilities as part of the Kiva community are laid out in the Terms of Use and the following guidelines, which apply to lending teams, comments, conversations tab posts, private messages, profiles and any other content posted on Kiva, Kiva Zip or Kiva’s social media properties.

Kiva is about connecting people through lending to alleviate poverty, and above all else we ask that you show respect for everyone in the Kiva community.

Things to do:

  • Post messages of support for teams, borrowers, Field Partners, Trustees and/or other lenders. You can also show your support by “liking” other lender comments.
  • Share why you supported a particular borrower, loan, Field Partner or Trustee.
  • Share any concerns you may have about a loan, business, borrower, Field Partner or Trustee; Kiva is an open community where transparency is valued.
  • Post comments related to the intended purpose of the lending team, blog or loan.
  • Flag a message if you think it’s inappropriate, or email our team to let us know.

Things to not do:

  • Do not spam.
  • Do not disclose someone’s personal information.
  • Do not write rude, disrespectful, accusatory or inflammatory comments. Name calling is simply not allowed.
  • Do not personally attack, harass or threaten anyone.
  • Do not use profanity or link to vulgar content.
  • Do not repost content or messages that have been previously removed.
  • Do not suggest to a borrower that they do not have to repay the loan or can pay at a different repayment schedule than the one listed on the loan profile.
  • Do not engage in self-promotion, advertising or solicitation.
    • FOR EXAMPLE: do not promote other lending teams, businesses or solicit money for other crowdfunding websites or projects outside of Kiva.
  • Do not post content that is off-topic.
    • FOR EXAMPLE: in loan comments, do not post topics that are irrelevant to the loan and the borrower’s business, which includes general feedback about Kiva, Kiva Zip or any Trustees or Field Partners that are not specific to that particular loan.

The Kiva team reserves the right to remove posts and messages at our sole discretion. Frequent guideline violations may also lead to the loss of posting privileges. If you have any questions, concerns or grievances related to these guidelines, please write to our team at

For wider discussions about Kiva Zip not specific to a particular loan, please follow this link to find our lending team message board. There, you can interact with other lenders to feedback about Kiva Zip and engage in discussions with other Kiva Zip lenders.

What do I do if I have forgotten my Kiva Zip password?

Please follow this link to reset your Kiva Zip password.

Why has the Kiva Zip login process changed?

The login process for Kiva Zip lenders changed as of March 2013 to allow them to use their Kiva credit on Kiva Zip (and vice versa).

The login process for Kiva Zip borrowers and Trustees has changed as of May 2014 to allow them to join multiple account types under one username.

How do I log in to Kiva Zip?

Borrowers and Trustees: Click here to log in to Kiva Zip. Next, click on the grey “Trustee/Borrower Log In” button on the right of the page. Enter your Kiva Zip email address and password.

Lenders:The first time you go through the Kiva Zip login process, it will work as follows:

For users who are new to Kiva and also new to Kiva Zip:

  1. Visit to start the registration process.
  2. Register as a new Kiva user by clicking the “Register” link at the top right of the page.
  3. Click on “Zip” along the top.
  4. You will be brought back to the Kiva Zip website automatically to create a Kiva Zip account.
  5. Your Kiva and Kiva Zip accounts will be linked.

For existing Kiva users who are new to Kiva Zip:

  1. Log in to your Kiva account by visiting
  2. Click on “Zip” along the top.
  3. You will be brought back to the Kiva Zip website automatically to create a Kiva Zip account.
  4. Your Kiva and Kiva Zip accounts will be linked, and you will be able to use your Kiva Credit to make Kiva Zip loans.

For existing Kiva users who have used Kiva Zip before:

  1. Click here to log in to Kiva Zip.
  2. Click on the orange “Lender Log In” button on the left of the page. You will be taken to the login page on the website.
  3. If you use the same email address for both your Kiva and Kiva Zip accounts, you will be asked to enter your Kiva Zip password to verify and link your Kiva Zip and Kiva accounts. Your Kiva and Kiva Zip accounts will be linked, and you will be able to use your Kiva Credit to make Kiva Zip loans (and vice versa).
  4. If you have different email addresses for your Kiva and Kiva Zip accounts, you can still easily link them. When you are automatically brought back to Kiva Zip after logging in to your Kiva account, just click the link that says “Already a Kiva Zip user?”, click the button in the dialog box that appears, and enter your Kiva Zip email address and password.

For existing Kiva Zip users who are new to Kiva:

  1. Click here to log in to Kiva Zip.
  2. Click on the orange “Lender Log In” button on the left of the page.
  3. Register as a new Kiva user by clicking the “Register” link at the top right of the page.
  4. You will be brought back to the Kiva Zip website automatically to link your Kiva and Kiva Zip accounts by entering your Kiva Zip password.
  5. Your Kiva and Kiva Zip accounts will be linked, and you will be able to use your Kiva Zip Credit to make loans on Kiva (and vice versa).

How was Kiva Zip involved in Kenya?

From 2011 to September 2015, Kiva Zip supported borrowers and Trustees all over Kenya. We made nearly 10,000 loans to more than 6,500 borrowers and are proud of the achievements that Kiva Zip had in Kenya. We facilitated these direct loans through the M-PESA mobile payments platform and had over 8,000 lenders contribute to these borrowers.

Why are there borrowers and Trustees in Kenya on the website?

Lenders might see loans supporting borrowers in Kenya on the Kiva Zip website. This is because the program previously made loans in Kenya, and those borrowers are past loans that we've made. These borrowers might be fully repaid loans or still in the process of making repayments. These loans will still appear in the contributing lender's portfolio, but since September 2015 there have been no more new Kenyan loans posted on the Kiva Zip website.

Why is Kiva Zip not working in Kenya anymore?

Kiva Zip decided to wind down the program in Kenya in September 2015. You can read more about this decision at this blog post.

Questions For and About Kiva Zip Lenders

Why do lenders make loans on Kiva Zip?

There are a variety of reasons why lenders make loans on Kiva Zip. Some lenders appreciate the ability to give a financial opportunity to an entrepreneur. Other lenders want to help the small business just down the street.

Kiva Zip lenders do not receive financial returns; there is 0% interest on the loans they make.

What are the risks involved with lending on Kiva Zip?

Lending money on Kiva Zip can be risky. You should only loan money on Kiva Zip that you can afford to lose, because there is no guarantee that you will get it back. Below is an outline of potential risks on Kiva Zip:

Default Risk: If a borrower defaults on a loan, the lender loses his/her entire investment. There are many reasons why a loan might not be paid back, ranging from poor execution of a business plan to the borrower experiencing a catastrophic accident.

Unknown Variables Risk: Because Kiva Zip is a relatively untested project, there are unknown variables and risks that continue to be discovered now and will be discovered as the project is established over its first couple of years.

Does my entire loan go to the borrower?

The entire amount of the loan goes directly to the borrower.

Can I connect with the borrower to whom I made a loan?

Kiva Zip does not organize meetings between lenders and borrowers; however, Kiva Zip lenders can communicate directly with borrowers through the conversations tab of the loan.

How can I invite people to become lenders on Kiva Zip?

You can invite people to become Kiva Zip lenders by following this link.

Can I withdraw my Kiva Zip Credit?

It is possible to withdraw your Kiva Zip Credit. All Kiva Zip withdrawals are processed via the main Kiva website. To withdraw your Kiva Zip Credit, you will first need to transfer your funds into your Kiva account.

  1. Click the "Transfer funds link under the “My Funds” section of your Kiva Zip homepage and enter in the amount of Kiva Zip Credit you would like to transfer to Kiva.
  2. Log into your Kiva account at and click "Withdraw" to be taken to the Kiva withdrawal request form.
  3. Enter in the amount you wish to withdraw and the email address associated with your PayPal account to request your withdrawal. Kiva withdrawals typically take 1 week to be processed into your PayPal account. If you have any questions about Kiva withdrawals, please email

Can I transfer my credit between Kiva and Kiva Zip?

As of March 2013, Kiva Zip lenders can use their Kiva accounts and credit to make loans on Kiva Zip. Once Kiva Zip lenders have linked their Kiva Zip accounts to their Kiva accounts, any Kiva Credit will automatically be credited towards Kiva Zip loans during checkout.

Kiva Zip Credit can also be transferred to Kiva and used towards Kiva loans. To transfer credit from Kiva Zip to Kiva, Kiva Zip lenders should click the “Transfer Funds” link in the "My Funds" section of their account page.

Kiva Zip lenders can see their current Kiva Zip Credit and Kiva Credit by clicking on their My Zip page.

Can my loans count towards my Kiva lending team?

Unfortunately, it is not possible for your Kiva Zip loans to count towards your Kiva lending team. We plan to build that functionality in the future.

How are repayment rates calculated?

All repayment rates are calculated by dividing the total amount of money currently collected from borrowers by the total amount of money currently due from borrowers.

If a borrower has paid us money in advance, we do not count it as collected from the borrower until that payment becomes due. We do still return this money to lenders as soon as we receive it.

Why is the paying back status of loans obscured once they are fully funded?

Currently, we do not display the paying back status of loans on the Kiva Zip website after they are fully funded unless you are a lender to that loan. We do this to protect borrower’s privacy and to avoid publicly shaming those who might become delinquent.

Can I get a refund for my loan purchase?

Kiva Zip is a program that is committed to transparency and innovation. We believe that aggressive experimentation is the best way to achieve the social impact that we desire. Given the risks involved with direct lending, we commit to reviewing each loan and Trustee through a standard process developed by the Kiva Zip team and to reviewing our processes periodically in order to improve our model. Still, due to the uncertainty of many factors that affect a loan’s repayment, it is difficult to predict when one will fail to be repaid.

Given these risks, the Kiva Zip team will not refund a lender’s loan purchase under any circumstances. This includes the following situations:

  • Delinquency or default of a borrower
  • Poor performance of a Trustee’s endorsements
  • Lack of updates and/or conversations tabs posts by the borrower, Trustee, or Kiva Zip
  • Suspension of a Trustee or borrower from Kiva Zip due to changes to Kiva Zip’s risk management policies

As a lender, do I have to pay any fees to use Kiva Zip?

Kiva uses PayPal to process all of its lender financial transactions. Kiva is the first organization that PayPal has supported by providing free payment processing. This support saves Kiva up to one million dollars each year, which helps us to keep our operational expenses low and send 100% of the loan contributions of our lenders to Kiva Zip borrowers.

As a result, U.S. lenders should not incur any fees by lending on Kiva Zip.

Lenders outside the U.S. may be charged a fee to convert their local currency into U.S. dollars, Kiva's working currency.

Questions For and About Kiva Zip Borrowers

How do borrowers benefit from a Kiva Zip loan?

Small businesses who lack opportunities within the traditional banking system can benefit from Kiva Zip by receiving a 0% interest micro loan. Although the primary benefit is this democratized access to capital, many borrowers also report that their loan has helped grow their business by marketing it to new customers. For some examples of this type of feedback, please see this blog post.

What borrowers qualify for a Kiva Zip loan?

There are a number of criteria, as assessed by trustees, that borrowers must meet in order to qualify for a Kiva Zip loan.

These criteria are as follows:

  • Borrowers cannot currently be in foreclosure, bankruptcy, or under any liens
  • Borrowers' businesses must not be engaged in any of the following activities:
    • Multi-level marketing / direct sales
    • Illegal activities (e.g. gambling, scams)
    • Pure financial investing (e.g. stocks)
  • Borrowers must either 1) be endorsed by a Trustee, or 2) participate in the Kiva Zip Borrowers Network program, which neither requires a Trustee, nor provides an endorsement. If the borrower chooses to pursue a Trustee endorsement, the Trustee must DEEPLY TRUST the character of the borrower they are endorsing and his or her commitment to repay the loan
  • The borrower must have a viable business or business plan
  • The Trustee must know how the borrower will use the loan and understand how it will impact the business
  • The borrower will be required to invite a number of lenders from their own network to fund their loan
  • The loan must be seen to have a positive social impact
  • The borrower must be over 18
  • The borrower must be in the U.S.

What due diligence does Kiva Zip do on borrowers?

Over the last two years, Kiva Zip has developed increasingly robust due diligence checklists for borrowers in the United States. These checklists include verifying the identity of U.S. borrowers using a third party platform called EarlyIQ; conducting online research on borrowers and their businesses; and connecting with borrowers on social media to establish the extent and strength of their networks.

Our due diligence processes are being continuously improved and refined. We believe our risk management is stronger now than it was when we launched the Kiva Zip program.

Borrowers’ performance on their first loan affects their eligibility for additional loans of higher amounts.

Why does Kiva Zip require borrowers to invite their own lenders?

Borrowers on Kiva Zip must invite lenders from their own network (and/or the network of their Trustee) to fund their loan, before they are able to take advantage of Kiva Zip’s crowd of lenders. We view this as an important measure of the borrower’s trust network and hope these lenders keep the borrower accountable for repaying their loan. For loans of $2,500 and under we require borrowers to invite between 5 and 15 lenders from within their network. For loans of $2,525 and above we require borrowers to invite between 10 and 30 lenders from within their network.

We ask borrowers to recruit lenders from their own networks for 3 principal reasons:

  1. Borrowers who invite their own networks on Kiva Zip have a significantly higher repayment rate on their loans
  2. We’ve found that loans fundraise much more quickly when the immediate network of the borrower is engaged in the fundraising period. When Kiva Zip lenders see that a borrower has some skin in the game, because they have invited their own friends and family to lend to them, they are more likely to make contributions of their own
  3. The health of the Kiva Zip program is dependent on new lenders that join Kiva Zip and support our borrowers. Inviting lenders fuels the growth of the Kiva Zip program, allowing us to support more entrepreneurs

What are the loan terms on Kiva Zip?

The maximum amount that Kiva Zip borrowers can borrow may increase as borrowers repay.

The amount that Kiva Zip borrowers can borrow is as follows:

Loan Maximum Loan Amount Loan Term
1 $5,000 6 - 24 months
2 $10,000 12 - 36 months

How can borrowers qualify for larger loans on Kiva Zip?

Borrowers must fulfill several criteria in order to qualify for larger loans on Kiva Zip:

  • Most importantly, borrowers must pay back their first loan on-time. Some leeway will be given for slightly late payments, but in order to qualify for a larger loan, the final loan repayment of the previous loan should be made on-time.
  • Borrowers should be in good standing with their Trustee (if applicable). Their Trustee may write another endorsement for each subsequent loan application.
  • Borrowers must go through a private fundraising period for each loan.

How do borrowers use their loan?

Kiva Zip borrowers have used their loans for a wide range of different reasons.

Some examples from the United States include:

  • A $500 loan to pay for a stall at a trade fair for an artisan jewelry maker
  • A $1,700 loan to purchase new labels and three months of commercial kitchen fees for a pesto maker
  • A $2,000 loan to buy a new computer
  • A $2,500 loan to purchase key items in bulk for a pickling business
  • A $5,000 loan to purchase inventory, and a permit to accept food stamps at a corner store
  • A $5,000 loan to purchase a used van to cater bigger events for a baker

What interest rate does Kiva Zip charge?

Lenders receive 0% interest from the loans they make on Kiva Zip. Borrowers also pay 0% interest on their loans.

How does the Kiva Zip Team handle delinquencies?

Loans are marked as delinquent when a borrower has paid back less money than owed to date, as indicated on the borrower’s repayment schedule. Only the borrower, the Trustee, and the lenders for a delinquent loan will know that it is delinquent. Loans are considered to be in default when the total amount repaid is less than the total amount expected as of six months prior. Once a loan is marked as defaulted, the borrower’s conversation tab will be closed. More information on Kiva Zip's default policy can be found at

When loans are delinquent, borrowers and Trustees are expected to provide frequent updates to lenders about their business and the context around the delinquency. While lenders are welcome to ask questions of borrowers and Trustees in any situation, lenders should take great care that no comment that they post could be deemed as threatening or abusive in any way. Any comments in violation of the Community Guidelines will be removed.

The Kiva Zip team has internal processes for managing delinquent loans. We are continuously striving to develop, analyze, and improve these processes. For more information on our delinquency management protocols, please see this blog post (as of October 2013). The Kiva Zip team may post updates to lenders on borrowers’ conversations tabs from time to time, but due to resource constraints, we cannot commit to doing this regularly for every loan.

How do I apply for a Kiva Zip loan?

Prospective borrowers in the U.S. can apply for a loan for their business by going to the Kiva Zip website and applying through the "Borrow" tab.

After submitting your information, a member of the Kiva Zip team will reach out to you to better understand you and your business. After reviewing your completed application, Kiva Zip will determine if you qualify for the full loan application.

Note: Due to a large number of loan applications, and our small team, it can take us a long time to follow up with applicants.

Before you can access a loan on Kiva Zip, you will either need to find a Trustee to endorse you, or apply independently through the Borrowers Network program, with no Trustee and no endorsement. Trustees can be either organizations or individuals. Finding a Trustee to endorse you may take longer, but gives you credibility with lenders during fundraising.

The best Trustees meet the following criteria:

  • They must know the borrower very well, ideally over a long period of time, and must TRUST THEM DEEPLY
  • They must know and understand the borrower's business
  • Borrowers must be comfortable sharing their personal financial information with their Trustee -- for example, their household income and level of indebtedness
  • Individual Trustees should have at least 2 years of experience in a relevant field -- for example, small business ownership, economic development, community development, etc.

Some examples of Trustees include:

  • An organization that is providing, or has provided, assistance or support to the borrower's business
  • A person with at least two years of experience in small business development or technical assistance
  • A network or association of which the borrower is a member
  • The borrower's church or religious community
  • One of the borrower's major suppliers or customers with whom the borrower has had a long-standing business relationship
  • A close friend who is also a small business owner, and who understands the borrower's business situation well

How can I increase my fundraising speed?

The most powerful way that a borrower (or a Trustee) can increase fundraising speed is by inviting their networks to become lenders.

Borrowers and trustees MUST invite their networks to lend to them in one of 3 ways:

  1. Use the "Share this link with your network!" provided in the “My Zip” section of the borrower or Trustee’s Kiva Zip account. If lenders come to Kiva Zip by clicking on this link, the Kiva Zip system assumes that they were invited by the borrower or Trustee. This link can be posted in emails, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  2. Invite friends and family to make loans to them by following this link. The invited lenders will get an email directing them to the relevant loan, and again, the Kiva Zip system will be able to track that they were invited by the borrower or trustee.
  3. Use the social media links along the top left side of the loan page. Users must be logged in for this social media sharing to be tracked and recognized.

Additionally, borrowers can attempt increase their fundraising speeds by doing the following:

  1. Post a high quality profile with a good photo. The best photos are ones that clearly and colorfully show the borrower's face (ideally smiling!) and show the borrower doing something related to his or her business.
  2. Post comments and updates in the conversations tab.

If you are a Trustee, having a proven repayment history of other endorsed borrowers shows lenders that you choose good borrowers. Lenders can sort by repayment rate when looking for credible Trustees and borrowers.

For more information on fundraising tips and tricks, visit our Fundraising Hub.

What guidelines are there for borrowers’ loan photos?

The loan photo must meet the following criteria:

  • The borrower must be in the photo
  • The borrower’s face must be clearly visible
  • The borrower must not be wearing sunglasses
  • The borrower must be at their place of business, or doing something related to their business
  • The photo can not be a passport photo or “mugshot”

As well as meeting all of these criteria, the best photos are colorful and well lit, and feature smiling borrowers.

For some examples of great borrower photos, please see this slideshow.

How long do I have to fundraise on Kiva Zip?

When a loan is posted into the private loan period, the borrower has 15 days to invite the required number of lenders to fund their loan. For loans of $2,500 and under, borrowers must invite 5 to 15 lenders, for loans of $2,525 and above, borrowers must invite 15 to 30 lenders. Once a borrower reaches the required number of lenders, their loan will be posted to the public Kiva Zip website and have 45 additional days to raise the remaining amount.

What happens if a Kiva Zip loan is not funded?

If a Kiva Zip loan has not been fully funded after 45 days of public fundraising, it will expire. The loan is removed from the website, any lenders that funded it are refunded their money, and the borrower will receive none of the money.

Can a borrower fund themselves on Kiva Zip?

No, a borrower can not fund themselves on Kiva Zip. In the event of a borrower funding themselves, the share purchase will be refunded, and further, more severe steps might also be taken, depending on the circumstances.

Can I apply for another loan if my first loan request does not reach its fundraising goal?

If a borrower applies for a loan that expires, they are eligible to reapply as long as their first loan application reached 50% of its goal.

For this reason, we encourage borrowers to either:

  1. Apply for a smaller loan when they first apply for a Kiva Zip loan. As well as the borrower needing to raise a smaller amount to reach their goal, we have also found that smaller loans are more popular with Kiva Zip lenders. Furthermore, lower monthly payments reduces the risk of repayment challenges.
  2. Aggressively promote their loan to their own networks, to ensure that the loan does not expire. Not only do the contributions of the borrower’s friends and family help to achieve the fundraising goal, but we have also seen that they encourage other lenders to fund the loan, presumably because they see that the borrower has some more skin in the game.

If a borrower reapplies for a loan after their first one expires, the amount of the second loan must be less than or equal to the amount of the first loan.

If borrowers submit two loan applications, and they both expire, they are not allowed to re-submit a third application.

What are group loans?

Group loans provide a way for borrowers to operate as a single unit and reduce risk to lenders.

  • Unlike group loans on Kiva, Kiva Zip group loans are posted as separate loan profiles rather than bundled as one single loan profile.
  • All loans must fully fundraise or all will be refunded to lenders even if other loans were fully funded.
  • Borrowers will not be able to graduate to the next level of loan amount unless all group members pay back successfully.
  • If a loan that is part of a group defaults, other members of the group can optionally pay the remaining balance so that they can graduate to the next level.
  • All loans in a group will have the same terms (grace period, length and repayment frequency).

Will Kiva ever contact me about applying for a Kiva Zip loan?

Kiva employees or volunteers may reach out to you about applying for a Kiva Zip loan; however, if you do receive such an email, you should be initially cautious. We have heard of scammers sending fake emails claiming to be from Kiva in an attempt to get people’s personal and financial information. Kiva will never ask for your passwords or bank account information, and we'll never charge you a fee for a Kiva Zip loan. If you receive an email that you’re not sure is from Kiva, please forward it to for verification. You can also check out the following blog post on phishing scams for more information on how to protect yourself:

What resources can Kiva Zip borrowers take advantage of?

There are a number of public and private resources that are available to borrowers. You may want to consider some of the following options:

Pacific Community Advisors

Pacific Community Ventures creates jobs and economic opportunity in low-income communities through the direct support of small businesses as well as by advocating for systemic change to increase investment in these vulnerable communities.

They are offering Kiva Zip borrowers five hours / month of free expert business advice to help you grow your small business.

If you are interested in PCV Online Business Advising you can visit their website or contact Jarlene Choy directly at for more information.


MicroMentor is a completely free, non-profit network that connects entrepreneurs with volunteer business mentors. They help entrepreneurs start, run and grow their business from an experienced business mentor.

They are offering Kiva Zip borrowers the opportunity to take part in their mentorship platform for free.

If you are interested in the MicroMentor program you can visit their website or contact Loren Guerriero at

Small Business Development Centers

Small Business Development Centers (SBDC’s) provide a vast array of technical assistance to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs. By supporting business growth, sustainability and enhancing the creation of new business entities, SBDC’s foster local and regional economic development through job creation and retention.

There are over 900 Small Business Development Centers around the country and you can find the location nearest to you by visiting their website.

SCORE Advisors

SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. SCORE is supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and has a network of 11,000+ volunteers.

SCORE offers free services to entrepreneurs across the United States. To find your local SCORE chapter you can visit their website.

Questions For and About Kiva Zip Trustees

What is a Trustee?

A Trustee plays a crucial role in the Kiva Zip system and is responsible for both recommending borrowers for a Kiva Zip loan and ensuring that they meet the criteria outlined above.

Trustees provide borrowers with ongoing support throughout the term of the loan. This could include providing internet access and business coaching, encouraging borrowers to communicate with their lenders and make partial payments in the event of delinquency, and more.

A Kiva Zip Trustee can be an organization or an individual.

What are the qualifications to become a Trustee?

Trustees should have compelling answers to the following questions, which appear on their public profile:

  • How will you determine whether or not the business plans of the borrower(s) you endorse are sound?
  • How will you know whether the borrower(s) you endorse will have the "character" to repay a loan?
  • Please describe what type of business, financial, technical or other support you plan on providing to the borrower(s) you endorse.
  • How will you establish whether the borrower(s) you endorse are in debt, or have a history of debt? How will what you find affect your endorsement of their loan application?
  • Why can't the borrower(s) you endorse access traditional loans?

Individual trustees should have at least 2 years of experience in a relevant field -- for example, small business ownership, economic development, community development, etc.

Within that scope, anyone (an individual or an organization) can become a Trustee, so long as they can provide strong answers to these questions.

How does Kiva Zip screen Trustees?

The Kiva Zip team employs a due diligence checklist for every trustee that we onboard, including (amongst other things) online and social media research, reference checks, security checks, etc.

We speak with every trustee as part of the onboarding process. We explain to them their roles and responsibilities and listen to why they are interested in becoming a trustee and why they feel they are qualified to play the role.

Every trustee must fill in an online application form, part of which becomes a public-facing trustee profile page. We review every trustee's application, following up where appropriate.

Trustees’ performance on the Kiva Zip site affects their ability to endorse additional borrowers. Trustees that endorse borrowers who do not repay their loans will be prevented from making future endorsements.

What financial involvement do Trustees have in the loan?

A Trustee does not handle any Kiva Zip loans and does not guarantee loan repayment. Trustees have no fiduciary duty to Kiva, borrowers, or lenders, including repayment of a loan on behalf of a borrower.

Trustees never handle the money associated with the loan – loans are sent directly from Kiva Zip to the borrowers, once fully funded by the lenders.

Trustees will also not receive any interest rate or flat fee (e.g. servicing fee, referral fee, access fee, etc.) related to the loan.

How many loans can Trustees endorse? What are Trustees' credit limits?

Trustees are categorized by a tiered structure that determines the number of endorsements they can make and what loan sizes they can endorse.

Trustees are assessed then upgraded or downgraded on a monthly basis.

Underperforming Trustees will be "closed" and unable to endorse future Kiva Zip borrowers. The Kiva Zip team does make exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

The requirements to reach each Tier and the associated credit limits are set out below:

Tier Requirements Endorsements Allowed Max 1st Loan Size
Pilot Approved Trustee application, >50% repayment rate 3 $5,000
1 10 repayments made, >85% repayment rate 10 $5,000
2 25 repayments made, >90% repayment rate 20 $10,000
3 50 repayments made, >95% repayment rate 30 $10,000

What happens to the Trustee if a borrower he/she endorsed doesn't pay back a loan?

The Trustee will face no financial penalty in the event that a borrower defaults on a loan. Having said that, it clearly will reflect poorly on their reputation if one of their borrowers defaults. Over time, we will stop working with Trustees who endorse borrowers that do not repay their loans.

How do I apply to be a trustee?

Prospective Trustees can apply to be a trustee by following this link and selecting "I want to be a Trustee".

After submitting your information, a member from the Kiva Zip team will reach out to you to invite you to fill out an online pre-screening survey. Kiva Zip will determine if you qualify for the full Trustee application.

Note: Due to a large number of Trustee applications, and our small team, it can take us a long time to follow up with applicants.

Questions Relating to Kiva

What is Kiva?

Kiva is a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world. Find out more at

What is microfinance?

Please click the following link for more information on microfinance:

How does Kiva Zip differ from Kiva?

Kiva Zip is a project, launched by Kiva, to test a more direct lending model than that currently used by Kiva. In its testing stages, Kiva Zip will operate separately from

The principal difference between the two models is that the Kiva Zip model involves payments from Kiva Zip directly to Borrowers, whereas in the main Kiva model, these payments are routed via Kiva’s Field Partners. Kiva Zip still partners with organizations that work closely with borrowers (these are called “Trustees” in the Kiva Zip model), but these organizations never handle the loans.

Another differentiating factor of Kiva Zip is the target borrower populations. Kiva Zip is intent on expanding financial access to borrowers who could not otherwise receive a loan from a traditional bank or microfinance institution (MFI). This means that the borrowers on Kiva Zip may be different than those on the main Kiva website. For example, in the U.S. it is becoming apparent that a lot of start-up businesses currently lack access to capital, and that these are prime candidates for Kiva Zip loans, whereas most of the U.S. businesses on Kiva are already established.

At least for the foreseeable future, Kiva Zip borrowers will be paying 0% interest. By contrast, in the main Kiva model, most borrowers do pay interest rates to the Field Partners in exchange for administration of the loans and a whole host of other services (ie, technical assistance, financial advice, etc.).

One innovation of the Kiva Zip model that we're really excited about is the conversations tab. Through the conversations tab on a borrower's loan page, borrowers, lenders and trustees are able to communicate directly with each other. We've seen lenders become business advisers, brand ambassadors and customers of the borrowers to whom they have lent money. They also use the space to send messages of support and encouragement. We hope that Kiva Zip can more fully realize the part of Kiva's mission that talks about connecting people through lending, and we believe that the conversations tab feature is a significant step towards the fulfillment of that promise.

Another important difference is that Kiva Zip loans are riskier than loans in the main Kiva model. Kiva has been operating for over 9 years now, and many of the kinks and loopholes in the model have been fixed over time. Because the Kiva Zip model is new, it is likely that there will be some growing pains over its first couple of years. For example, the default rate on Kiva Zip is expected to be significantly higher than the 1-2% seen on Kiva today, as due diligence methodologies on both Trustees and borrowers are improved.

There will hopefully be a number of small experiments on the Kiva Zip website, which will differ from Kiva. Examples include modifying the borrower profile, changing loan sizes, and allowing borrowers to comment on and update their loan directly. It is hoped that some of these experiments will be successful, and subsequently exported to Kiva.

Why did Kiva launch Kiva Zip?

Kiva’s mission is to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty, empowering individuals to create opportunity for themselves and others through safe, affordable access to capital. To that end, Kiva has been discussing and debating different direct lending models since its founding, to enhance the relationship between the lender and the borrower, and to expand access to capital to a wider population.

Since the beginning, Kiva has been determined to remain on the forefront of technological and financial innovation in the social sector. Now that Kiva is a more mature organization, the Kiva management team feels Kiva has the resources and the talent required to start testing these ambitious ideas, to rapidly pilot and deploy (or reject) new projects. Kiva Zip is one instance of this entrepreneurial approach.

How will the project interact with Kiva?

The Kiva Zip sub-domain is separate from Kiva. Assuming the Kiva Zip project continues to go well, the long-term plan is to integrate Kiva Zip into Kiva.