Important News: Vittana and Kiva Join Forces

Today we are thrilled to announce the launch of an exciting new partnership with Kiva! Beginning March 31st, all Vittana students will be fundraising on Kiva and Vittana will be sporting a brand new look!

Vittana collaborates with over 30 microfinance partners worldwide and continues to innovate to help students graduate to gainful employment. Partnering with Kiva and their large network of passionate lenders will provide an opportunity for our MFI partners to access greater amounts of capital, fostering accelerated growth of our loan programs. Utilizing Kiva’s market-proving capital Vittana will focus on providing expert technical assistance and innovative product development for our partners.

Through March 31st all student profiles on our site will accept donated loans only. This means that students will still receive your funds, but the repayments from these loans will be donated to Vittana to continue student loan program development. Outstanding repayments that are due to you from students you’ve lent to in the past will still accumulate and be added to your Vittana credit until all repayment schedules are complete. The funds in your account and those due to you from repayments will remain there and never be lent or donated without your consent. You may also choose to donate your outstanding repayments and Vittana credit and support our continued mission to graduate a generation beyond poverty. You will always be able to access your account at http://my.vittana.org.

Your support thus far has empowered over 15,000 students in 14 countries to improve their lives–helping to lift up their families, their communities and to graduate beyond poverty. We hope you will continue to support our students’ dreams and remain a part of the Vittana community by joining the Vittana lending team on Kiva.

Although we will no longer be utilizing our P2P lending platform, Vittana still vitally needs your support. To support our operations and scale our programs we ask that you:

Have any questions or concerns? Please check out our recently published FAQ regarding the transition of our P2P platform. You can also contact us directly at questions@vittana.org

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Megan Halbrook

About The Author:

Megan is an Operations Coordinator at Vittana. She is interested in issues surrounding global health and development and excited to be working with a small team of passionate individuals. Previously Megan was conducting research in health economy for the Quebec government and platforms in New Delhi and Geneva. Megan holds a BA in medical anthropology from McGill University.

My Website: http://vittana.org

Comment 40 Replies

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  1. Anake Goodall Reply

    Congratulations to all on the journey to date!

    Is it possible to have my Vittana credit transferred straight into a Kiva credit?

    Might I note I’m not actually sure from this post what exactly Vittana will be doing now?

    Very best regards …

    • Hi Anake,

      Unfortunately this is not possible. You will need to withdraw or donate your credit at Vittana. As for what Vittana will be doing, we will be continuing our mission. Kiva simply allows us greater access to capital, allowing us to start and scale our innovative student loan programs around the world.

      Thanks for your comment!

      • Roger Coathup Reply

        I don’t understand what Vittana will be doing in the future either, as the loans to students are moving to Kiva. The reply doesn’t make it any clearer.

        • Hi Roger,

          Partnering with Kiva, the largest peer-to-peer microfinance network, provides benefits to both Vittana and Kiva which ultimately benefit the students we aim to serve. Kiva’s access to catalytic capital–lines of credit far greater than Vittana can provide–allows our partners to grow their loan products faster and stronger than ever before. Vittana is one of the foremost experts on student loans in developing countries. With our expertise and technical assistance we can facilitate healthy portfolio growth while continually innovating within the student loan sector. This partnership will build tremendous capacity for MFIs to support students through loans.

          Fore more information, check out our FAQ at: http://blog.vittana.org/vittana-kiva-faq

  2. Gail L Reply

    I’m pretty unhappy about this, and I’ve been trying to figure out why. This is all I could come up with:

    1. This was sudden. Feels very much like pulling the rug out from under us, who have been lending through Vittana for years now. And one day, POW, no more platform, go talk to Kiva.

    2. Kiva doesn’t do student loans. They have their whole micro-finance thing, and that’s fine, but I lend here because I think it has more of an impact. The 2 types of loans don’t serve the same purpose and don’t need to be structured the same. So why is this through Kiva now? Do they have the expertise to set these things up? Is Kiva calling the shots now, strategically? Will Vittana staff do anything besides consult with MFIs on new partnerships?

    3. Jargon. Seriously, you can’t explain this merger/transition any better? WTF is catalytic capital anyway?

    I don’t know how many of us there are that do not lend through Kiva. I don’t, because I don’t think micro-lending for tiny businesses works very well. And I don’t understand who is in charge of this Vittana now.

    I suppose it won’t change much, really. But, frankly, I think you handled this badly by surprising us and explaining it poorly.

    • Hi Gail,

      Thanks for your comments. I’m sorry you feel this transition was handled poorly, we’ve tried to strike a balance between the needs of our lenders and the needs of our students. As for Kiva not doing student loans, they will now that they’ve partnered with us :) Checkout http://kiva.org/vittana to browse and support the same Vittana students you always have.

      • Rob Reply

        The link does not work (404 on the kiva site). What is the correct link?

        • CJ Reply

          Hi Rob – I think this is the correct link; it searches for loans on Kiva that have been posted through Vittana. At the moment there are three loans there, but when I clicked on it yesterday there were no loans, so it just went to the “0 loans available” page, where it suggests you try a different search. That may be what you had been seeing.

  3. Jens Reply

    Since Vittana merged with KIVA, I hope new members from VITTANA will review the discussion in one of the former biggest teams on KIVA, the GLBT team.

    Since 2012, Vittana has partnered with KIVA but Vittana will now be absorbed by KIVA. Because of the Opus Dei/Strathmore debacle and KIVAs discriminatory and dismissive stance when the GLBT members voiced their concerns, I moved my repayments to Vittana. I also felt particularly passionate about educational funding. With Vittana giving up its independence, this seems no longer a viable alternative. I know that many others initially moved funds over to VITTANA. For those of you who share the concern about KIVA’s blatant disregard of our reaction to KIVA’s affiliation with a homophobic, antifeministic, and ultra-conservative religious organization, please watch out and speak up. I have began to withdraw my repayments from KIVA and from VITTANA. I am saddened to leave both organizations but I feel we need to take a stance against these absurd organizational practices, the lack of transparency and the disregard toward our feedback.

  4. Ted Reply

    I don’t like Kiva for many reasons, and as such will be moving my withdrawls out of Vittana. This sucks, and I wish that Vittana management had done their homework on what Kiva supports.

  5. Jessica Reply

    I’m, too, am a little confused! While until now I was not aware of KIVA, reading some of these other comments has made me feel uncomfortable about supporting the organisation. I am also struggling to establish what, exactly, is going to happen going forward.

    - Will students currently on Vittana be transferred to KIVA? I’m a little surprised that the transition is less than 1 month away and there is only 1 student available to fund on KIVA. You are asking us to donate our funds to Vittana, lend to students on Vittana and lend to student(s) on KIVA – how am I supposed to know what’s best?

    - If I were to donate my credit and repayments to Vittana, where exactly would that money go? For me, the appeal of Vittana is seeing exactly who is benefiting from my money, and being able to track their progress and impact.

    - To what extent will KIVA now be dictating the way Vittana is run? I’m concerned about the points raised in other comments and would want to make sure that my money will be supporting something truly 100% positive if I were to lend through KIVA.

    I also have to agree that this situation has not been handled well at all. The delivery was abrupt and confusing, and while I have been really impressed by Vittana thus far, it seems that the easiest thing for me to do is withdraw my funds and look to offer my support elsewhere.

    • Hi Jessica,

      Thanks for your comments. The students on Vittana right now will not be transferred to Kiva’s lending platform but in the coming months our MFI partners will be uploading student profiles directly onto Kiva. In the future you can view Vittana students on Kiva at Kiva.org/Vittana. Moving forward with your support you may choose to participate however you like. We hope you will donate to Vittana and continue to support our student loan program building efforts. Your donation will be used to support our market research and impact research efforts, the cost of travel to meet with our partners, the technical assistance we provide, and other operating costs. Even though you won’t be investing directly in one particular student, you will be contributing to the growth of entire loan programs that will fund and support hundreds of students. We have just recently released the findings from our most recent and ambitious Impact Report which shows the impact that Vittana Loans are having for our students, post-graduation employment rates, and salary increases. Finally, our relationship with Kiva is based on the mutual desire to help others achieve their dreams with the power of microfinance. Our aim in this partnership is to bring our individual strengths together in order to offer field partners a student loan product that has the best chance for success. Kiva will not be dictating our operations and we will still be conducting due diligence and building our partnerships based on our own standards.

      If you have any other questions, please feel free to send us an email at questions@vittana.org

      • Jessica Reply

        Thanks Megan,

        I appreciate you taking the time to reply. Now that I can understand exactly where my money will be going if I donate to Vittana, it sounds like a good option that will make an impact in the long-run. As I think it is a shame that current students on Vittana will not have the opportunity to transfer to Kiva, I am keen to re-lend what I can to help someone to achieve their goal.

        While this move is unexpected, I can see and understand the benefits all-round, and just hope that Kiva is the right organisation to work with.

        I wish you all the best of luck, and hope the transition is successful!

        Jessica

      • Scott H Reply

        Megan,

        One of the main things that drew me to Vittana was the fact that I could see and track the money that I spent had a real and lasting impact for the person or people that I choose to support.

        Now my money is doing what? Supporting “market research and impact research efforts, the cost of travel to meet with our partners, the technical assistance that we (Vittana) provide, and other operating costs”?

        What exactly does this mean and what amount of my money will actually reach the students that I am trying to support? A penny on the dollar? Two? A dime? A Quarter? It seems to me that you have taken something clean and simple and now trying to make it corporate. This is a step back from allowing the people who support you to make a lasting impact to the individuals that rely on non-profit organizations like Vittana to help them make a change in their lives.

        You state that now “you (the supporters) won’t be investing directly in one particular student, you will be contributing to the growth of entire loan programs that will fund and support hundred of students.” However this seem to just be adding a layer of opacity to the support that you have previously provided to the actual students we are supporting/donating to.

        Your carefully phrased response to Jessica’s question which both states what you are doing without actually providing any real information on how my money would actually be spent makes me wonder if this is actually the best organization to use to provide actual impact to the very people that you claim to support.

        Thank you for your time,
        Scott

    • C.J. Reply

      Jessica-
      As a long time lender on both Kiva and Vittana, I wanted to at least give my opinion, which is that Kiva is a very good organization, and will be a great place to continue to support Vittana students. If you would like to see a blog post from Kiva about what other posters here are talking about, it is here: http://blog.kiva.org/kivablog/2013/08/28/an-open-letter-about-kiva-and-strathmore. It has to do with a University in Kenya that Kiva works with to provide student loans to their students, and the distasteful beliefs of the founders of that University. As Kiva details in the above blog post, they have no evidence that these beliefs are expounded to the students, and see the partnership as a good opportunity to help students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend college to do so. I have been lending on Kiva since 2007, and have always been impressed with thier transparency, and feel that they are a really good way to connect with and make a difference in the lives of others around the world.

      • Hi CJ,

        Thanks so much for your response. It was great to read a well considered detail of the events previously mentioned. I now have much more peace of mind about Kiva!

        I appreciate you taking the time to explain!

        Jessica

  6. Prince Diabor Reply

    It a previlage for me to now such institution and i want to be a member am in Ghana west africa thank you

  7. James Mill Reply

    I think this is wonderful. I love Kiva and Vittana and it seems like they are focusing on their relative strengths as non-profits with limited resources to create the most impact possible. Vittana has an expertise in building student loan programs around the world with technical consulting. Kiva has an expertise in facilitating loans from a large number of people for social good — over 1 million people actively lend on Kiva.

    The combination means that both non-profits can focus on their strengths and do more good together by cooperating.

    One thing: if you’re unable to find student loans at http://www.kiva.org/vittana, check out http://www.kiva.org/lend?themes%5B%5D=Higher+Education for all student loans options on Kiva.

  8. C.J. Reply

    I have mixed feeling about this. On one hand I feel sad, like we are losing something, but on the other, as a long time Kiva lender, I understand how the funding capabilites there could help a lot more students in the long run. And I also see how this can help you guys focus on setting up partnerships and programs to help students, rather than building and maintaining a complex lender platform that Kiva already has. I guess the part I am particularly confused about though, is how you guys will continue to get funding, as I am assuming that the donations we give with each loan will now go to Kiva.

    • Hi C.J., thanks for sharing your opinion. We will still be accepting donations through our website and will be shifting our focus towards institutional funding. This type of funding is often more predictable and will allow us to plan and grow our programs in a more thoughtful, stable way. Our intention is to continue our exponential growth in both our portfolio size and loan capability and this partnership is a crucial step towards that aim. I hope you’ll stay apart of the Vittana community on Kiva and Vittana!

  9. Mea Reply

    I’m confused, this makes it sound like all loans are donations now and the micro loans will no longer be paid back. I was interested in this, because the money would come back and I could still help! I have a severely autistic child and a very limited income, so knowing that I could help but the money would come back was important to me and my husband. We were about ready to hop on board. DOES this change the expectation of repayment? I don’t even care about interest but I need to get back what I’d put in, at least with my current place economically. It’s not a matter of not wanting to just give, it’s a matter of not really having the money to give but wanting to help somehow anyways.

    If this changes to straight donations, with no repayment, I can’t help like I desperately want to be able to.

  10. Vittana Lender Reply

    As a longtime lender on Kiva, I was thrilled in 2012 to find another website – Vittana – to log into to do something similar. I am sad to see it merge into Kiva only because I wanted some different lending experiences beyond Kiva.

  11. Mea Reply

    It seems like the idea here was that I could loan to a student and then get repaid, and now it sounds like you’ve moved to a purely donation platform, this is something I can’t do with my current financial position, but I really wanted to. Now that I know this to be fact, I’m disapointed. You have to realize that this closes the door to many people who could afford to loan a small amount but not to give it away? I don’t understand why you’re removing an obviously succesful format and alienating those of us who saw this as a fresh opportunity to actually be able to reach out, but perhaps you could at LEAST help me by directing me to another organization that actually does do real microloans. You aren’t talking microloans any mroe, you’re talking micro donations. I’m disapointed, truly, because just when I heard about this and could have helped you pulled the rug out. If you’re just another loan and donation institution then I’m sad to see you give up on your original mission, which was to allow more people access to giving, even those who couldn’t afford to give. It was a no lose situations, and with my current economic standing I can’t spare a penny, but I could if I could count on that penny coming back. Do you see my issue? Can you at least respond to my concerns? Point me in a direction where I COULD STILL help?

    • Hi Mia,

      I was also a little confused about the change from loans to donations. From what I have read, Vittana’s website will now be used to collect donations that they need to grow the charity, reach more people and create even more partnerships.

      However, you can still loan to students. This is what Kiva is for. If you visit http://www.kiva.org/vittana, you can see a selection of students who you can loan to. As far as I can see, it works in the same way that Vittana did, and Vittana is still involved, but it just happens to be on the Kiva platform.

      I hope this helps!

      Jessica

  12. Congratulations Vittana and Kiva! I think it is a great merger, a great recognition of unique expertise and strengths in the marketplace. It is something I think needs to happen more in the nonprofit world, too much duplication, not enough efficiencies of scale. I have been a long time lender to both from their early days. I have always wanted to see Kiva move to more strategic investments and I have wanted to see Vittana get access to more capital and lending. I understand some people will feel a sense of loss of the community, I do think there was a great students-lending-to-students vib at Vittana. I’ll gladly donated my remaining balance to you as you start your new role. Onward!

  13. Michael Brewer Reply

    One of the greatest draws in my lending through Vittana was that the money came back to me and I could choose who it was lent to after that. Now with the new model, I give up the repayments and I have no influence over who receives the next loan. I felt strongly about my choices – they reflected my personal goals in driving change in this world.

  14. debbie ann Reply

    this just seems all wrong to me, like I’m being forced to donate the money to vittana, that’s not what I want and I don’t have a paypal acct either, and I don’t want to set one up. this seems sort of dodgy and not what we signed up for, and it doesn’t feel like I’m getting much choice in the matter. I used a credit card to donate, not paypal, so when my loan is repaid, why don’t you credit my card?

    • Hi Debbie,

      You don’t have to donate your funds, you may always withdraw them. You can find the link to withdraw on your account summary page.

    • Hi Debbie,

      Unfortunately we can’t credit your credit card back the funds, this is not possible. However if you do not have a paypal account you would like to use, we can definitely issue you a withdrawal via check. Please allow 2-4 weeks for processing though, as we have a small accounting team ;) – Please send the request to caitlin@vittana.org, and include the full amount you’d like withdrawn, and where to send the check.

  15. Stephen Reply

    Hi, are students from kenya allowed in your programme, I am a student in kenya trying to raise my fee

    • Hi Stephen,

      Yes, students from Kenya are allowed in our program. To apply for a Vittana loan, please visit SMEP (http://www.smep.co.ke/), our MFI partner in Kenya, for further information.

  16. chrisphine obado Reply

    i wish to be among the students ,im really struggling with fees

  17. chrisphine obado Reply

    hi im from kenya,how can i register as a student borrower

  18. Scott Wolff Reply

    Attempting to withdraw my credit does not work. Please get this fixed, so that I can make a choice and withdraw the funds.

    • Hi Scott,

      I’m sorry you are having trouble. Our team is looking into the issue and hopefully it will be resolved in the coming days. In the meantime could you email me with the amount you wish to withdraw and your paypal email address? My email is megan@vittana.org. Thanks!

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  20. Stan Frymann Reply

    Kiva affiliates often charge very large interest fees, I’ve seen 40%. That’s one reason I moved funds from Kiva to Vittana. In the vernacular, “This sucks.” I hope it works out for you because it doesn’t for me. I wasn’t even able to complete the withdrawal.

    I hope you have some control in the interest rates charged by the affiliates. Student loans in the US are turning into our form of “debt bondage slavery” and I sure hope that 40% loans through Kiva doesn’t export this to the third world.