Can SURF do what Kiva can’t?

14 Nov 2009

Kiva, a remarkable online portal to connect donors directly to entrepreneurs in developing countries, admitted this week that its claim to facilitate donor-to-borrower connections is partly fictional. In fact, donations are channelled through microfinance institutions, and the entrepreneurs advertised already have secured funding for their small businesses.

Somewhat then against the grain, SURF has recently begun to offer donors the opportunity to support specific beneficiaries through our partner AVEGA Eastern Region (whose remarkable coordinator, Odette Kayirere, was interviewed this week on BBC Woman’s Hour). In an ongoing evaluation of our work by Comic Relief, we debated whether this model was feasible. As a small organisation with limited capacity, then our Monitoring and Evaluation Office in Rwanda is already overstretched. However, we believe that by factoring in an administration charge that covers our costs, as well as that of our partner to deliver the support, then it is a workable model.

Through the work of a volunteer of our partner Msaada, Julie Damant, we have about 20 case studies of individual survivors and households of survivors in need of support. We found the first sponsor last month for Niwemutoni, who is in fact a second generation survivor, and we are now working to try find sponsors for an array of other survivors in need.

If you can help, then please do contact SURF and we can provide the details of a beneficiary in need of sponsorship and the exact cost of providing that, and then ensure that the funding is provided direct to the beneficiary through AVEGA. You will then receive a progress report, and we hope in time that once the pressing needs of the survivor are met we can then transfer your support on to another beneficiary – and ensure that your gift continues to keep on giving support to survivors.

Personally, I am big fan of the organisation having bought Kiva gift certificates as presents for many of my friends. However, if you are looking for complementary ways of giving, then please do consider us.

SURF connecting donors-to-survivors.