Microfinance Effort Matches Tiny Lenders with Kids Who Yearn for College Worldwide

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Vittana student from VietnamAnother micro-finance initiative is improving the economic outlook for poor families around the world, this time through the financing of college tuition for students.

Although microfinancing usually raises funds for small businesses, the Seattle-based non-profit Vittana has been helping students around the world graduate from post-secondary schools by asking donors to pay for their tuition. Like the business loans, money for education can immediately steer a family out of poverty. And, so far, the Vittana record has been stellar.

When it comes to education in the developing world, student loans simply don't exist. That's what inspired Vittana founder, Kushal Chakrabarti, to pioneer the concept of student micro-loans three years ago, after previously directing technology at Amazon.com.Kushal Chakrabarti photo by PopTech- CC

In just three years, his website has inspired the funding of nearly 1,000 students from ten countries. Their reach aims to expand to 18 countries by year's end.

The average students who’ve received loans have been able to increase their income from earning $3 a day to $8 a day, according to the website, and a whopping 99% of students repay their loans.

"I wanted to prove that even the poorest young people are bankable, they're credit-worthy," he told the Huffington Post. "Not only will they repay you, not only are they reliable, but this money will change their lives forever."

Vittana partnered with local microfinance institutions in South America and Asia to help arrange loans. The money donated would go directly to the student who was given 3 years to pay back the lenders, with no interest.

The lender then can re-invest their repayment in another student or withdraw their funds as cash. Lenders can even search for students according to the area of study they wish to support.

Last year Vittana partnered with the Clinton Global Initiative, and in the next six months, the organization plans to add another 4,000 students, with photos for benefactors to browse, from new areas in Africa and the Middle East.

Vittana was named "Best Non-Profit Startup" at the Seattle 2.0 Awards in May.

Want to get involved? Go to Vittana, pick a student, put them through school. It's that simple.

Thanks to Craig Withers for submitting the story idea - and for loaning money on Vittana!

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