Innovative Microlending

  • Kenya


Kiva Zip and Refuge Point, in cooperation with UNHCR

Date program started:



To helping urban refugees to become self-reliant.


To facilitate loans to refugees in Nairobi.

Targeted population:

Refugees running successful small businesses.

Challenge addressed:

The impossibility for refugees to accumulate sufficient capital to grow their businesses.

Program description:

  • RefugePoint-a U.S. based organisation, acts as a trustee and selects refugees to participate in microfinance activities with KivaZip. As a trustee, Refugepoint does not bear financial responsibilities but guarantees for lendees with their public
    reputation. If the refugees who receive loans do not pay them back, RefugePoint loses the ability to act as a trustee, therefore limiting this opportunity for other refugees.
  • All recipients prior to receiving a loan, first receive a cash grant to help smooth consumption as well as close scrutiny of their proposed business plan.
  • Kiva Zip advertises the refugee profile on the web and charitable persons from around the globe commit a small no-interest loan (upwards from $5) towards the overall loan. In this way refugees in  Nairobi use crowd sourced funding to access credit from around the globe.


  • Kiva Zip offers loans without interest and fees. The entire lending procedure takes place online and payments to the borrowers are made via the mobile money provider M-PESA.
  • Refugees do not need a bank account or internet access, all communication and money transfers are made to their mobile phones.
  • Refugees pay a small transaction fee to M-PESA for each repayment. The borrowing scheme, as well as the number of borrowers a trustee can endorse, both gradually increase with proof of repayment.
  • The maximum amount for a first loan is $125 or ~10 000 KSh. Once a refugee has established a repayment record (by repaying a loan successfully), s/he can move on to a higher credit level. Because the system builds on trust alone, one trustee can only endorse a set number of borrowers.


  • The repayment rate of refugees is currently at 95 per cent
  • Loans for refugees have been funded at a faster rate, the average being loans fully funded within 24 hours, and a record of 5 minutes.

Impact on targeted population:

A tripling of average monthly income of beneficiaries from 4000 to 12 500 KSh (equivalent of $40 to $130).

Conditions required:

  • A dynamic market, that lends itself to a bustling small trade economy
  • An organisation supporting refugees that can act as a trustee
  • A partnership with Kiva Zip


Our impact

  • 3700

    refugees have better access to education and livelihood opportunities

  • 40

    countries in which our partner NGOs are implementing solutions

  • 490

    refugee children benefit from mathematics, english, art and sports classes

  • 700

    women can now support their families

  • 650

    refugees have access to critical healthcare and safety information

Get Involved

We’ve accomplished so much, but the growing urgency of refugee issues in cities means we have a lot more to do and we can’t do it alone. Support the refugee communities that need it most.

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