Zidisha. Growing Business Where It Counts.


The microcredit industry is one I’ve been looking to cover for some time now. Around the developing world through a series of public and private initiatives, prospective entrepreneurs working in countries where startup capital is sparse are more than ever being effectively connected to investors looking to help grow their ventures.

Let’s start with the basics though. Namely, what a microloan actually is. As Entrepreneur puts it, these are investments that “can reach to up to $50,000, with an average microloan of about $13,000″. In what we’ve come to know as the “third world” (although I’m not personally a fan of the term) these capital injections are reshaping the lives of thousands of individuals looking to grow their business.

Of course, being able to efficiently connect investors with entrepreneurs was always going to be a challenge. That’s where Zidisha comes in.

All About It

Zidisha, which was founded in 2009 by Julia Kurnia, is a peer-to-peer lending organization looking to bring together lenders with borrowers in the developing world.

Julia shares her rationale for creating the service as part of the ‘Founding Story‘ on the group’s website.

With accolades from the Wall Street Journal, and Venture Beat among other prominent news outlets, the company is working to develop its profile, along with the perks it offers in comparison with other organizations in the field.

As of now, the company has already succeeded in finding funding for over 400 businesses across the globe.

What’s So Special?

Zidisha centers itself as a more economically reasonable alternative to other, more prominent microlending ventures, such as Kiva. Whereas those services still have to work through middlemen such as banks, Zidisha directly connects investors with entrepreneurs, with the effect being significantly lower interest rates, and as a result a lower cost of doing business.

In fact, the platform offers a range of investment options that even casual lenders can get into. When accessing the site you’re immediately displayed a specific funding campaign to which you can contribute as little as $50. Investors can feel safe that they’ll see a return on the money they’ve injected, with loans currently being paid back at a 90% rate. Features are also in place to limit potentially dangerous excessive borrowing practices, with borrowers not being able to request more money until their initial loans are paid back.

As for lendees, they’re able to post a listing explaining what they want to produce, provide information in the cost required to make their plan a reality, and initiate a transparent process to attract funding.

My View

Of course, the primary motivation for most looking to invest can’t be that the ambition to turn a hefty profit. That’s clear just judging by the amounts being lent, and the payment structure.

The reward is in the effect it has on those receiving the funds. Entrepreneurs in the developing world are now more connected than ever to the global capital market, and the investments made on the site spur production capacity in impoverished countries, creating jobs, and truly changing lives.

Zidisha is special because it both dramatically lowers the cost of making such ventures possible, and provides a transparent, relatively safe platform for them to be promoted, and developed through. You see personal stories of success from ambitious individuals around the world, who in spite of the challenges they face, namely through a lack of available funding options, are able to find an outlet to make their ideas a reality.

I can only hope that the peer-to-peer nature of the organization continues to reap its well deserved rewards, and future services follow suit on this funding model.

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