Philanthropy Action

News & Commentary


Updated November 10

The posts and comments have been flying fast and furious over the issue of Kiva specifically and the issues of transparency and donors demands for illusion. For those who haven’t been able to keep up, I thought it would be helpful to provide a mostly comprehensive guide to the various posts. I’ll try to keep it updated when/if more is added. If I’ve missed anything, please add it in the comments.

1. Kiva Is Not Quite What It Seems by David Roodman

2. Kiva Is Not Quite What It Seems, But That’s OK by Jeff Raderstrong

3. Matt Flannery, Kiva CEO and Co-Founder, Responds

4. Even More Questions About Kiva by Tim Ogden

5. Two Pictures of by Holden Karnofsky of GiveWell

6. Is Kiva Misleading the Public? by Sean Stannard Stockton

7. Tim Ogden on Kiva (a comment made on #6) with additional commentary by Sean

8. Are Donors Misleading Themselves by Sean Stannard Stockton

9. Kiva Customers Don’t Receive the Loans You Give by Sasha Dichter of Acumen

10. Kiva Repayment Data by Elie Hassenfeld of GiveWell

11. Donors Choose vs. Kiva by Sean of Tactical Philanthropy and Donors Choose vs. Kiva by Holden of GiveWell

12. Deceptive Advertising Hurts the Entire Aid Industry by Saundra Schimmelpfennig of Good Intentions Are Not Enough

13. Kiva, Heifer International, the American Red Cross, and Donor Trust by Saundra

14. Updated version of How Kiva Works from Kiva

15. What’s Different About Kiva by Holden Karnofsky of GiveWell

16. Kiva, Transparency, Connections and Conduits by Tim Ogden

17. Kiva Revamps How It Explains Itself to Users by David Roodman

18. Kiva: A Cautionary Tale for Social Entrepreneurs? by Tim Ogden on

19. Brother, Can You Lend A Dime? by Sandy Stonesifer of Slate

20. Reflections on the Kiva Story by David Roodman

21. Confusion Over Where Money Lent via Kiva Goes by Stephanie Strom of the New York Times

22. New York Times on Kiva, Global Giving, Etc. by David Roodman

23. Tweet from Kiva Founder Matt Flannery: “I bet a lot of people reading [NYT’s] article would conclude that the people on Kiva don’t get the loans, which is unfortunate.“

24. Today’s New York Times Article by Matt Flannery

25. Why Kiva is a Better Option (than MyC4) by David Costa

26. Kiva Reveals…by Shabbir Safdar (PR consultant)

27. Digging Deeper in Microfinance with by David Strom (a technology columnist)

28. Microfinance’s Circular Firing Squad by Ryan Calkins of SeaMo [Highly Recommended]

29. Adventures of an African Microfinancier by Martin Anderson. Anderson relates his personal tale of visiting a microborrowing group in Uganda that he directed funds to using Kiva.[Highly Recommended]

Disclosure: I serve on GiveWell’s board of directors


Just posted my second response to the debate

October 15, 2009

From a Kiva Fellow alumna -

October 22, 2009

Just spotted this yesterday:

Premal Shah doesn’t seem too bothered by the discussion of whether Kiva misleads donors - in this transcript, he argues that any loans are provided person to person.

November 09, 2009

Thanks for the link Andrea

November 09, 2009

Thanks, Tim, for linking to our post.

I have appreciated the overall sentiment in your posts that the issues with Kiva’s transparency are real but fixable. While there are some in the debate who seem more interested in maligning Kiva than offering better alternatives, you and David Roodman are offering solid critiques and proposing improvements. I look forward to more!

November 11, 2009

thanks for putting this together.  this is really useful!

November 18, 2009

All online microfinance websites require MFI intermediaries. We pointed this out more than a year ago to the academic community.

At a presentation of Babyloan (a Kiva replica but for-profit) to our students by Arnaud Poissonier, we found him to be more transparent than Kiva was on this question.

Arvind Ashta
Burgundy School of Business, France

November 28, 2009

I have appreciated the overall sentiment in your posts that the issues with Kiva’s transparency are real but fixable

May 23, 2010

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