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Let's Humanize Finance Podcast 001: Premal Shah, Co-Founder and President of Kiva

I’m excited to launch the first edition of the Let’s Humanize Finance podcast with someone who has built a company that is a poster child for humanizing finance.

Premal has built a company in Kiva that has not only impacted the lives of millions of people around the world, using their micro-loan platform to provide borrowers with a hand up rather than a handout, but has done so by personalizing the lending experience through its peer-to-peer platform.

Kiva has enabled over 2 million borrowers across the world to access capital and raises around $1 million per week for the working poor through their online micro-loan platform that has humanized finance by creating a truly personalized the lender-borrower experience.

From an early employee at PayPal to making philanthropy and giving back a personalized, addictive experience

Premal Shah is the Co-Founder and President of Kiva, the early pioneer in online lending through its non-profit crowdfunding platform that has lent to over 2.1 million borrowers with loan dollars in excess of $915 million. Premal co-founded Kiva in 2005, and has worked to promote Kiva’s mission and reach more communities around the world for more than a decade. The results have been quite impressive — Kiva’s repayment rate has been over 97% on loans disbursed across 82 countries worldwide. Kiva has also created tremendous impact on a group of people who have been subject to a poverty penalty because they are poor. Instead, Kiva’s micro-loan platform has provided a hand up rather than a handout and has humanized finance by enabling lenders and borrowers to connect through personalization of the loan process. Premal has been recognized for his work with Kiva. He’s been named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and to FORTUNE Magazine’s “Top 40 under 40” list. Premal has a long history of creating innovative financial solutions that impact the world. Prior to Kiva, Premal worked for PayPal for 6 years as Principal Product Manager during the company’s formative years. He is a graduate of Stanford University.

In this episode we cover:

  • How Premal’s transformational trip to India motivated him to try to fix the injustice of poverty in the world.
  • How Premal’s experience as an early product manager at PayPal helped shape the way he built Kiva as a marketplace built on the mechanism of trust and has enabled Kiva to successfully originate loans between strangers across geographic divides.
  • Why Kiva is a non-profit, rather than a for-profit online lending platform, and how being a non-profit enables Kiva to be an “overperforming donation” rather than a below-market rate investment.
  • How the power of feedback loops in building a product and experimentation were the biggest lessons that Premal has learned through building Kiva.
  • How Premal and Kiva want to make philanthropy and giving back an addictive experience.
  • How becoming a father has changed Premal’s perspective on running a company and how he’s shifted his leadership mindset from hustle to honing Kiva into something that creates enduring public good and intergenerational value.

Quick Hits:

  • Biggest Mentor?: Reid Hoffman, Founder of LinkedIn and former PayPal colleague.
  • What Keeps You Up At Night?: (1) figuring out how to optimize for stability rather than optimize for the new and (2) figuring out how to get the best talent to work on problems of financial inclusion.
  • Saying You Live By?: “The point of life is to give back from a place of feeling full.”

You can follow Premal, Kiva, and Let’s Humanize Finance here on Twitter!

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