Mobilizing the Crowd to Vet Social Enterprises with Kiva

+Acumen Corps helped Kiva decide how to invest $10,000 - $50,000 loans and launch a brand-new financing platform.

November 03, 2016

Much like our courses+Acumen Corps Live Action Challenges are collaborative experiences that provide participants with an experience to contribute to real challenges faced by a real company. In July, we worked with SiembraViva, an Acumen portfolio company, to come up with solutions for their need to receive real-time data from their network of smallholder farmers.

This time we partnered with the nonprofit Kiva to help them pilot their new crowdvetting platform Kiva Direct to Social Enterprise project. The team at Kiva wanted to see if they could tap into the collective knowledge of the crowd to help them decide if they should invest in a solar energy company in Zambia.

In a 2-hour, online, rapid-fire event, teams of participants from the +Acumen community worked through Kiva's due diligence process and cast their vote on whether to invest. Four hundred twenty people from all over the world and all areas of knowledge joined us. No prior investment experience was necessary. Everyone learned on the fly and had a valuable role to play.

“It was a great experience to share with people from different backgrounds and perspectives. This kind of initiative gives us the chance to realize that diversity is a factor that can actually connect ideas and thoughts from all over the world! Thanks +Acumen and Kiva.” – Sandy

With two challenges under our belts, we’ve learned that the value really does go both ways. Our partners at Kiva had a great experience working with our community members and learning from their experience of going through the process.

“THANKS everyone for participating today! On behalf of Kiva, this was an incredibly humbling experience and validation of our team’s wildest dreams.” – Max, Kiva

They felt the +Acumen community asked great (and tough) questions and provided informative insights into how they can move their crowdvetting idea forward:

“…one of the key learnings for us from this event is that we now understand that we were approaching crowdvetting with the wrong program design. We've found that interaction and collaboration is really what drives engagement here… moving forward we will be organizing individuals into teams… We believe replicating that aspect of the +Acumen challenge should drive up engagement.” – Max, Kiva

The work the community did during our challenge with Kiva inspired the team and provided them with great insights to inform the design of their crowdvetting platform. We heard from them that as a result of the participation,questions, and observations they’ve built an entirely brand new crowdvetting website.

“Before this event, most Crowdvetters were approaching the activity solo and as a result, we found that we had high attrition rates; moving forward we will be organizing individuals into teams with designated team leads who will schedule regular meeting times to collaborate.” - Max, Kiva

From the +Acumen community participants, we learned that they feel that future challenges are not to be missed! The opportunity to apply what they know from their work, their volunteer roles, or from participating in courses, to a real challenge was highly rewarding.

“This was a fantastic opportunity for critical thinking, community building, and engaged discussion. It helped me think about how I present information as well - particularly in terms of business model and social value - when communicating my goals for my own business. Even more, it was incredible fun to interact with others from all across the globe, working on a worthy challenge - and brainstorming solutions together. Thank you to Kiva and +Acumen for creating a forum for critique, for engagement, and for building trust in the power of collective effort!  AMAZING!”– Andi

So, what happened to the solar company they evaluated?

After following up to have the participants’ questions and concerns answered, the team at Kiva approved VITALITE’s application to fundraise through Kiva Direct to Social Enterprise - and they were fully funded in just 3 days!

Congratulations to the community on contributing to the next steps for VITALITE, and for paving the way for future crowdvetters through the Kiva platform! Anyone can continue to contribute and serve as a crowdvetter for other social enterprises on Kiva’s platform.

We continue to be impressed and blown away by the high quality contributions from our community. Many participated in our challenge in July with SiembraViva, and with this very different, but just as impactful challenge with Kiva, we know we’re onto something by bringing the opportunity for organizations to tap into the collective expertise and creativity of the +Acumen community.

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