By Julia Kurnia
We have some exciting news for the Zidisha community: Zidisha has been selected for participation in the prestigious startup incubator Y Combinator.
Y Combinator is considered the world’s top funding and growth program for game-changing online startups. Such well-known companies as AirBNB, Dropbox, Scribd and reddit got their start with Y Combinator.
Up until recently, Y Combinator funded only for-profit companies. Zidisha is only the second nonprofit to launch at Y Combinator. (The first was Watsi, a world-changing platform for crowdfunding medical treatments in developing countries.)
The Y Combinator program will take place from January until March this year. I have relocated to Mountain View, California, for these three months in order to participate. During this time, the Y Combinator advisors will work intensively with Zidisha, to help us acquire the expertise and resources we need in order to scale up our lending platform.
Y Combinator is highly competitive, and accepts only a tiny percentage of organizations that apply. Zidisha made the cut because we are doing something that nobody else is doing, and something that has the potential to change the world.
We are building a person-to-person lending community that transcends hitherto impregnable geographic barriers – barriers that have acted as hitherto insurmountable handicaps for people who happen to have been born in the world’s poorest places. Now that we have the ability to bridge geography using the internet, geographic handicaps can be overcome. That is the world we are making.
Such audacious innovation is not an easy thing to be a part of. Forging new paths means there is no roadmap to follow, only a continuous process of learning and improvement. Joining such an unconventional endeavor – as a borrower, lender, supporter or volunteer – is not an easy choice. It feels much safer to stick with tried-and-true avenues of philanthropy. Supporting Zidisha before we had much external recognition required a lot of boldness, vision and faith.
That is why we have you to thank – our borrowers, lenders, volunteers, and everyone else who has accompanied us this far. Zidisha is a community of faith – not in the religious sense – but rather faith in the basic goodness of other people, and faith that we will overcome the geographic handicap that has held back too much of humanity for too long.
Thanks to each of you for keeping that faith alive.
You may read the official Y Combinator launch announcement at TechCrunch here: http://techcrunch.com/2014/01/23/zidisha-launches-a-kickstarter-style-micro-lending-platform-for-low-income-entrepreneurs-in-developing-countries/