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Group Solidarity & Peer-to-Peer Microfinance on Kiva.org, via Scott Hartley

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Congratulations to Scott Hartley, a Facebook, and former Google employee, pursuing his MBA and MA at Columbia University, who has just released a working paper -- Kiva.org: Crowd-Sourced Microfinance and Cooperation in Group Lending -- analyzing the impact of team-based lending on Kiva.org. Scott conducted the original research for the paper as a Berkman Summer Intern with the Cooperation project in 2009.

Founded in 2005, Kiva leverages the power of the Internet to enable individuals to lend directly to entrepreneurial projects and individuals around the world. In less than five years, the non-profit has recorded over $125 million in loans from over 400,000 individual lenders to over 300,000 entrepreneurs through its online platform.

Scott combined participant observation of Kiva users with data from the Kiva API to study how solidarity affected lending dynamics on the site. From the abstract:

At the end of 2008 Kiva.org announced the creation of “Lending Teams,” or cohesive open or closed membership groups established and categorized according to scope. These Lending Teams introduce forms of cooperative many-to-one and many-to-many group lending, based on tenuous concepts of identity. Groups vary according to category, size, scope, and activity, and this impacts participatory vitality of crowd-sourced lending.

Looking specifically at Kiva.org as a prominent online community for peer-to-peer lending, this study seeks to evaluate the advent of “Lending Teams,” their subsequent impact on group lending behavior, and the extent to which group openness, size, and categorization does or does not substantively alter online cooperative behavior."

You can download the paper from SSRN and get more information about the author from his blog.

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