More good news from Kiva, a pioneer in micro-finance--their interest rates are substantially lower than the local competition:
Average Interest Rate Borrower Pays To Kiva Field Partner 22.91% (as of November 23, 2008)
Average Local Money Lender Interest Rate 85.22% (as of November 23, 2008)
Kiva's existence means that the poor can borrow money and create small businesses without being subject to usury. Even so, I don't like how high the interest rate is--23% still seems high to me, especially because the money given by Kiva lenders is given as an interest-free loan without expectation of re-payment. I'd like to see more transparency in terms of the overhead. I wouldn't be surprised to see nonprofits, especially international ones, without adequate bookkeeping. If some corruption comes to light, it would be devastating to the microfinance world, because it would scare away potential and existing lenders.