Kiva loans in the Philippines far exceed other countries

Earth Vagabonds Ellen and Theo with Hermenia, a woman who took out a loan through Kiva in Malay, Aklan, Philippines.

Last Updated on June 7, 2023 by Ellen

As Americans, we love the idea helping small businesses in developing countries, and Kiva is the best way I’ve found to do that. It’s an aggregate site that works with microlenders around the world that help disadvantaged people who might otherwise never get financing. I mostly lend to borrowers in rural areas of countries we have visited; I’m especially keen on helping women.

We met the woman pictured above by chance several months ago in a rural area of Malay Municipality, where we have paused our global travel during these crazy pandemic days. She is one of the women I’ve loaned to through

Borrowers in this area work with Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation, the regional microfinancer. NWTF officers then ask Kiva to secure funding.

Lenders like me give money to Kiva, and we can pick who we lend to. Each loan is usually financed by many givers. The minimum contribution is $25.

When my loan is paid back I lend the money again to help someone else in an ever-widening circle of goodwill.

Kiva loans in the Philippines

At this moment, I have hundreds of dollars in loans out to women all over the planet through Kiva. In total, I’ve made 100 loans in 21 countries.

Most of my current Kiva loans are to women in the Philippines – either here in Aklan Province, on other islands we have visited, such as Bohol and Cebu.

There are more loans open right now in the Philippines than in any other country on the planet. Some months ago, there were more than 4,000 loans in this country. As of late October, there are 2,300 loans in the Philippines – almost all are for women (2,275).

For comparison, the countries with the most loans after the Philippines are Kenya (869), El Salvador (216), Uganda (192). The Philippines blows them away.

Most of the Kiva loans in the Philippines are for women who own convenience stores and need more stock to sell, or they raise livestock and need feed.

There also are a great number of Filipino women who ask to borrow money to install toilets in their homes.

Borrowers are real people

Our digital culture sucks money into “donations” — and we never see the people who benefit. So, curious to meet – and further help – an active borrower, I wrote to NWTF to see if they might connect me. When you make a loan on Kiva, you get information about the general area where the borrower lives or works, not an exact address.

I proposed visiting the convenience store of a particular borrower to buy some groceries. It was a request they probably don’t get often.

They passed my email to someone in Kiva’s San Francisco office. The answer was a nice ‘no’ because of the pandemic.

Here are parts of his reply:

“Unfortunately, it is a very difficult time right now to facilitate this. Even NWTF are struggling to meet with some of their borrowers, it depends on the local guidelines within each region…

” know it’s not the same but you’ll probably bump into many NWTF borrowers around Caticlan so if you talk to folks, maybe you’ll meet some who have had loans raised on Kiva. All the best with your work and adventures and be well.”

Mark McDonagh, Investment Manager, Asia-Pacific,

Caticlan is the largest town within Malay Municipality. A few months ago, there were dozens of borrowers in Malay, like the woman pictured above, who fully repaid her loan. Right now, there appear to be only three loans that need funding in Malay, but there are plenty more throughout the province.

Why so many Kiva loans in the Philippines? Maybe the team at NWTF really has its act together. They’ve managed to connect with borrowers in rural areas despite the pandemic.

And maybe it’s also because Filipinas are resourceful and driven to have a better life — just like everyone else I’ve met on our shared planet.

Thanks for reading, “Kiva loans in the Philippines far exceed other countries.”

Other blog entries about Kiva:

Other blog entries on the Philippines by Ellen:

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