In my group paper about ICTs in business and industry, my group explored different application of ICTs that are helping to promote entrepreneurship and grassroots industry in the world’s poorest countries. One of these applications, micro-lending, is has especially helped women to manage their finances and to participate in business. Organizations like Kiva are making it possible for third-parties to provide small loans to individuals in developing countries with just the click of a mouse; and now, one U.S. company is teaming with Kiva to target women borrowers.
Skin-care company, Dermologica, started a campaign to promote microloans for women in 2011, and donated $500,000 to help fund these loans through Kiva. Jane Wurwand, found of Dermologica, stepped down as CEO to focus her attention on the micro-lending campaign, enlisting her network of distributors, business partners, and consumers in the cause. Wurwand started Dermologica 25 years ago with just $14,000 and has since built a business with customers in 87 countries and more than $200 million in annual revenue. It is for this reason that she believes so strongly in empowering women to take charge and start their own businesses.
The project, called Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship (FITE) involves promotion on a number of the line’s top-selling products that consumers can redeem online to contribute $1 to a Kiva loan. FITE loans will only go to women and Wurwand hopes that consumers will then add to the credits with their own donations. Each of Dermologica’s 53 distributors has formed teams of employees to make loans through Kiva, sending marketing kits to the 25,000 salons and spas that sell its products.
A screenshot of the FITE website
The FITE project is the first time Kiva will be promoted on consumer packaged goods, but it hopes to get other companies to follow the path of Dermologica in promoting its service. Despite recent criticism of the microfinance model for lack of returns to investors, Kiva has a system to guarantee the repayment of loans – of the nearly $125 million dollars in loans Kiva has funded, 98.91% of them have been repaid by the end of the term.