The microfinance model has proved to be a valuable way to raise funds for entrepreneurs all over the country, as exemplified by the success of Kiva. Seattle-based Vittana is taking a similar approach to helping fund education in developing countries by allowing you to lend directly to students in the developing world. The idea is to bring student loans to the developing world through the power of person-to-person microlending. Today, the site is existing its beta period.
Vittana partners with microfinance organizations located in developing countries to donate to students in need of funding. Loans for students range from $200 to $1,500, are then funded by individual lenders, via $25 donations or more, on the Vittana website. One hundred percent of the loans are given to the student. Launched in beta last May, the Vittana community has made over $110,000 in loans to nearly 200 students around the world, who are now getting their degrees. Thus far, Vittana has programs in Mongolia, Nicaragua, Paraguay Peru and Vietnam and plans to expand to India and countries in Africa soon. And Vittana students have had a 97 percent repayment rate.
The non-profit organization, which was founded by former Amazon employee Kushal Chakrabarti and Brett Witt, was incubated in the fbFund REV program. Vittana has received funding from a number of notable investors and leaders in the technology space including Mike Murray, Mitch Kapor, Joel Spiegel, Dave McClure, and Dave Richards. Qifang is implementing a similar model for education in China.
Vittana launching a Microfinance Madness initiative (think March Madness meets microfinance) to help bring together bloggers, college students, startups and other groups in a competition to lend the most money to college students around the world. TechCrunch is participating in the initiative and will be facing The Huffington Post, Redfin and others to raise funds. Join our group and make your donation today!