I have been curious how Kiva deals with currency risk. Kiva is a great resource for providing micro-lending and the opportunity to engage in choosing who you will lend to. But my transactions are all in US$ and the loans in the field are in the local currency. This creates an issue of what happens when currency values fluctuate. I asked a question on the Kiva LinkedIn group (an excerpt is shown here):
A lender takes out a loan of $100 with 10 months to repay. If the loan is in the local currency, what if the value of that currency during the 10 months declines by 20%? Then the bank has received all their money back but they owe Kiva $100 but they only have $80 worth of the local currency (again ignore that the payments are made monthly – since it doesn’t effect the issue at hand – currency rates). Hows does Kiva deal with this currency risk? Do the local partner banks take the risk…?
I was directed to a great slideshow showing Kiva’s lending policies. It turns out Kiva does have the local banks take the currency risk. So they have to pay back $100, if the local currency value is now $80, they would have a loss, of course the local currency value could also have risen, then the local bank has a gain.
They have a chart showing the cost of capital to local Kiva lenders at 0-1% plus currency exchange risk (which they say some banks choose to hedge and others just take the risk), which is about the lowest cost of capital around. Kiva charges no interest on the loans to the local banks. The costs come from the requirements (the cost of adding a profile – the time of staff of the bank to add the information…) of using the Kiva website.
Update: Kiva updated their policy to put any currency loss greater than 20% on the lenders (up to 20% losses are taken by the bank, above 20% are taken by those lending through Kiva). But the banks can chose to take the currency risk, which they could do to encourage lenders to select their loans to fund.
Curious Cat Kiva connections: Curious Cats Kiva lending team – Curious Cat Kivans - Funding Entrepreneurs in Nicaragua, Ghana, Viet Nam, Togo and Tanzania – Kiva Fellows Blog: Nepalese Entrepreneur Success – Kiva related blog posts