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A Little Goes A Long Way

Smiling Ugandan Children.

We don't usually comment on our stories, but in the case of "Uganda: A Little Goes a Long Way," we had to make an exception. The story, broadcast on October 31, received such an overwhelming response from FRONTLINE/World viewers that they actually became part of the story, helping change the course of one company's future.

For those of you who missed it (and you can watch the story online on our Web site), "A Little Goes Along Way" reported on Kiva, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that has built an innovative Web site allowing people to make individual loans to small businesses in the developing world. The story focused on businesses in Uganda, where Kiva first began its mircoloan operations. Within seconds of the broadcast on Halloween night, Kiva's servers crashed as FRONTLINE/World viewers tried to log on in their thousands, hoping to make a loan. Kiva staff quickly realized that the floodgates were open and posted a simple homepage explaining the site was overwhelmed and asking for contribution pledges via email.

Kiva then put out a call to engineers and technicians across the Bay Area for help. One company, Greenplum, immediately donated several servers to ease the situation. And even though only about 1 percent of those trying to access the site were still managing to get through, Kiva received $20,000 in donations in the first eight hours after broadcast. Soon after, Media Temple, another Bay Area company, came forward to offer a server-sharing solution, and Kiva staff managed to get the full site back online within a few days.

We also realized the impact of the story from the record traffic to our own Web site and from the hundreds of heartfelt responses we received from viewers. In a typical response, one reader wrote, "When I saw the program I was so impressed by the sense of hope that tears came to my eyes. Please send me Kiva's address to make a donation." (You can read many more viewer reactions here.)

As for the money pouring in to fund businesses featured on Kiva's site, that, too, was off the chart. In the month since broadcast, Kiva businesses have received more than $500,000 in loan funds; that's more than the company had taken in since it began operating in late 2005. Before the snowball effect of the broadcast, it typically took two to three days for a business to be funded on Kiva's site. Now businesses are fully funded within minutes or hours. Viewers have also donated $100,000 to Kiva itself, which has helped the company expand the breadth and depth of its services. By the end of this year, the small nonprofit, with only a handful of full-time staff, will have forged 25 loan partnerships in 20 countries around the world.

"FRONTLINE/World has created a whole new Kiva. Now organizations call us who weren't interested in talking before. The tidal wave hit and hit hard. And it's all because of the lenders."

Fiona Ramsey, Kiva's community and operations manager, explained the story's impact: "FRONTLINE/World has created a whole new Kiva. It's a whole new ball game. Now organizations call us who weren't interested in talking before. The tidal wave hit and hit hard. And it's all because of the lenders."

So thank you, FRONTLINE/World viewers, for your tremendous response to the story and to Kiva's work.

From all of us at FRONTLINE/World


For updates on Kiva's progress and successes, read founder Matt Flannery's "Kiva Chronicles" blog.

You can watch the broadcast again on the FRONTLINE/World Web site here.

To check out the latest batch of small businesses approved for loans and looking for funding, browse the Kiva Web site.

Also, visit our Social Entrepreneurs page to watch more stories we have produced featuring individuals and companies working to improve people's lives in the developing world.


Kym Nyyssela Otte - Seattle, WA
This PBS story actually made me want to GIVE a loan. It was perfectly presented and answered EVERY question I had. I hope this story wins many EMMYS too! This story will not only change the lives of the families receiving the will change the lives of the people who give the loans. made this process so easy and user-friendly, I still can't believe it.

New Milford, CT
Having seen the first broadcast of this story I was so happy to see it once again tonight [April 10, 2007] on FrontlineWorld so that I could donate myself. This is an amazing opportunity and a wonderful way to feel like a donation/loan makes a direct and meaningful impact. Thank you so much for this report and so many others.

Moscow, Russia
Wow great site! Some really helpful information there. I'm sorry for little off-topic, but I want to ask you about design of this site.
Did you make this template yourself or got from any templates website?
Looks pretty cool for me. Wonderful well this reading.

FRONTLINE/World's editors respond:
Parts of the site are templatized, but we designed this ourselves. We are glad you like it.

Moscow, Russia
Wow great site! Some really helpful information there.

Flagstaff, Arizona
Thank you so much for the report. My husband and I signed up the morning after the broadcast to become micro-lenders. What a magnificient way to be able to help others. It feels so good! Will you be doing an update soon as to the impact that the 2nd broadcast has had on the organization?

Taylor C - Chicago, IL
Just wanted to stop by and let everyone know that the Kiva Chronicles blog that is linked to above has been moved to from the old location at

Earl Hammons - Glasgow, Kentucky
Thank you for exposing me to Kiva. I trust the ground swell you've experienced from airing this piece will influence future programs. I strongly support PBS and have shared the information with my sister who is a missonary in Honduras...Love, Hope, and Support for others is why we are here in the first place...Thank you

Andrew Williams - Holland, MI
I am floored. I saw your piece on Kiva not ten days ago and my jaw dropped; my roommate thought I had had a stroke or something because I stopped talking in mid-sentence. Without the wonderful work you do I know that thousands of people would still be in the dark about this innovation in hope and peace, including myself. I want to thank you for the time and effort you and your team put into this story and the fact that you have rebrodcast it so those of us who hadn't seen it could. For the first time in a long while I feel like I can change the world while still in college, even with an English degree.

Mickey Mikeworth - Minneapolis, MN
I have supported this group for a long time and I respect the work they do. I was heartened to have you share this story on Frontline because good news is always great to hear- no matter where you are in the world.Thanks

Luis - Toronto, CANADA
Dear People of PBS/Frontline
Just happened to see your story
about KIVA a few nights ago and it was a excellent story where I know
that I WILL participate to help other less fortunate persons of this planet.
Thank you for letting me know.

Pat Jameson - Pittsburgh, PA
I watched the program and my heart leaped for joy when I saw the small businesses started with so little money. I was also elated about how people begin to organize their community and the esteem and sense of purpose it brought to them. What a great a sow alot. Hurray!!!!

Lyn McFarland - Livingston, NY, NY
Thank you so much for your story on Kiva. In a news world where everything seems either deadly or doomed, it's wonderful to know that there are still ways to help make a difference.I will register on right now.Thanks again. Hope reigns!

Sunil Veluvali - San Jose, CA
Thank you for this very cool feature. I signed up and hope to contribute my bit.

Jan Stage - Schaumburg, IL
I was awestruck last night. What a wonderful ministry of sorts. Empowering those that have everything it takes except some small funding. How could I let this opportunity slip by? Not only will I be funding because I can and want to, but this is the best feel-good experience I've ever heard of. PBS, I thank you for airing this program last night (4/10) and am now totally engrossed in everything that the KIVA website has to offer.

Samuel J. Levine - Spring, Texas
I watched "A Little Goes A Long Way" on PBS Sunday Night. I was taken by surprise by the hopeful upbeat message. YES, I can do this! And I have, I made two loans, one to a rice farmer in Equador and one to a vegetable farmer in Moldova. I feel so good; this is really something positive. My brother served in the Kennedy Peace Corps but I was already married with children and was not accepted. Maybe this is now my way of serving, at last.

Joellen Covington - Mesa, Az.
Wonderful, this is somthing that even with my very limited income I can take part in. What a great feeling, that I, me, myself, can help. Thank You.

Mentioned your story to my ailing mother in law and saw her light up with hope that she could help someone with the small amount of money she had.

Zak Schwank - Temecula, California
What a great story! I registered on last night and plan to make a loan in the near future.

Martin Lubawy - Chicago, IL
THANK YOU !!! for airing the story about KIVA micro-lending. I was previously unaware of this opportunity to become directly involved with helping our brothers & sisters around the world. What a great way to share the bounty we have with others in a way that is self-empowering for both the lender and the entrepenuer.

berkeley, ca
I just saw the story about Kiva and it was an incredible story. The Afganistan piece was also good--but depressing. These two pieces put together made the perfect pair. Please continue the good work.
I will be supporting Kiva.

Janet & Maurice Fishburn - Bakersfield, CA
We saw the KIVA info on KCET-TV tonight, and were very impressed and would like to help. What a great idea this is! Please send us a newsletter....

Bouckville, NY
Thanks for this story, and all the excellent broadcasting!
This story touched me very close to heart. After trying and trying for well over a decade, I have finally embarked on my own business venture. I recently purchased land in upstate NY to start an organic vegetable farm. While the situation I am in is far from ideal or easy, I at least have an opportunity to fulfill my dream. By contrast, the people served by Kiva need so little to realize their dreams and without the generosity of more fortunate people, they may have no opportunity.
Lately, I have been feeling financially taxed by my dream. After viewing this story, I have been reminded how fortunate I am and I will be donating to Kiva to pass on the dream.