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Zidisha: Nonprofit Spotlight

“We had been trying so hard to raise donations from individuals and foundations. It was surprising how easy, and how big of an impact Giving Assistant has had on us.”

-Julia Kurnia, Founder, Zidisha

Giving Assistant members are changing lives—even as far away as Africa—just by shopping online.

Imagine for a moment, a bright, entrepreneurial single mother named Bineta raising her children in Senegal, West Africa.

Bineta designs and hand-sews beautiful dresses for a living, but she’s faced with a challenge—her dresses are highly sought after, and she can only hand-sew one or two of them a week, limiting her income.

If Bineta could afford a sewing machine, she’d be able to sew five or six dresses a week instead, effectively growing her business and making it possible for her to provide even more for her family.

Enter Zidisha.

What is Zidisha?

Zidisha is an organization that seeks to provide people in developing countries with affordable microloans. These small loans invigorate local economies while helping citizens meet financial needs, or just move a little closer to their dreams.

Zidisha keeps interest rates low and loans affordable by harnessing the power of the internet: borrowers can log on to Zidisha.org, create a profile, and be connected directly with lenders.

Lenders browse borrowers’ profiles and contribute to their projects with the click of a button. No loan officers’ salaries to cover, and only minor overhead costs.


The founder of Zidisha is Julia Kurnia.

Julia saw the power of working with microfinance – small amounts given not as handouts but as loans to invest in revenue-generating activities while she was working with a microfinance organization in Senegal.

They raised hundreds of loans at zero cost through Kiva, an online microlending platform.

As excited as they were about the loans, they were soon disheartened when they discovered how expensive it was manage them. Just traveling the long distances to visit borrowers was expensive enough, and hiring someone to manage the loans put their costs through the roof.

The interest rates they needed to charge the borrowers defeated the purpose of the loans.

Julia decided to find a way to distribute loans without having to charge high interest rates. Thus Zidisha was born.

As more and more people living in developing countries were gaining access to the internet, these direct loans made sense because borrowers and lenders didn’t need to visit a bank or travel a great distance, they only needed to log onto their computer.

How Does It Work?

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The process is fairly simple. Entrepreneurs and business owners apply for a loan through the Zidisha website. Once the loan is approved, anyone who has access to the internet can contribute any amount to the loan.

After the loan has been fully funded, the borrower uses the loan to improve their business in some way, big or small. They can gradually repay the loan, and when the loan has been fully repaid, lenders can re-loan the money. This cycle allows borrowers to scale their business and lenders to contribute to as many businesses as they like.

What is Microfinance?

Microfinance is a general term to describe financial services to low-income individuals or to those who do not have access to typical banking services. These financial services usually involve small amounts of money, so the term “microfinance” helps to differentiate these services from those which formal banks provide.

Often, these small loans are distributed through Micro Finance Institutions (also known as MFIs), which range from small non-profit organizations to large commercial banks. These MFIs often charge interest on these loans, usually to cover overhead costs. Unfortunately, these rates take a big toll on the borrower’s profits.The Importance of Microfin

Microfinance goes deeper than just loaning money.

It is the belief that people from low-income backgrounds can lift themselves out of poverty if they are given the resources to do so.

When the average income of many people in developing countries is $1 or $2 a day, it’s extremely difficult to save.


Example page of micro-loan donation need through Zidisha

Bineta’s Dreams Come True

Thankfully, Bineta can look toward nonprofit organization Zidisha for assistance in obtaining a small loan for the sewing machine.

With an affordable, low-interest loan from Zidisha, Bineta purchases a brand new sewing machine, and repays the loan easily with the additional profits she earns sewing more dresses each week.

And Bineta has since opened a studio, hired an employee, and sent her teenage daughter to college preparatory school.

Organizations like Zidisha (and amazing people like Bineta) are the cornerstone of Giving Assistant’s global mission to transform consumers’ everyday online shopping activities into meaningful, productive, long-term contributions to humanity.


Giving Assistant shoppers donate $250,000+ to Zidisha—a number that grows every day.

Founder, Julia Kurnia, receiving Zidisha’s check from Giving Assistant supporters

“Through Giving Assistant, we’ve been able to raise almost a quarter of a million dollars in additional donations,” said Zidisha’s founder, Julia Kurnia. “That has allowed us to fund loans for two thousand people that otherwise would not have been financed.”

-Julia Kurnia, Founder, Zidisha

In May of 2016, we were honored to deliver a check to Zidisha for $247,618.

Zidisha is one of many organizations that Giving Assistant and its shoppers are passionate about supporting.

This means Giving Assistant shoppers have helped Zidisha expand their work providing these affordable microloans to borrowers in developing countries.

Giving Assistant envisions a world where:

  • The average global citizen can more regularly experience the joy and fulfillment that comes from being able to contribute to their community
  • Where nonprofit organizations like Zidisha can feel confident knowing they have one more consistent, reliable, long-term stream of financial support.

To this end, we developed an innovative, consumer loyalty program that enables us to pay Giving Assistant members more cash back on their online purchases than our competitors.

Then, we provide shoppers with the option to donate some, or all of their cash back earnings to organizations they value.

In short: our shoppers earn more, so they enjoy the freedom to give more.

That’s nearly $250,000 Zidisha can now use to expand their mission of providing microloans to business owners, teachers, families, and individuals in developing countries—and that number keeps growing. All because thousands of Giving Assistant members are shopping online, right now.

How to Donate to Zidisha

  1. First sign up for a Giving Assistant account
  2. Select Zidisha on your Giving Assistant account settings menu
  3. Choose how much of your balance from cash-back rewards you’d like to donate
  4. Then next time you shop using Giving Assistant and earn cash back you’ll automatically donate your set percentage to Zidisha

Giving Assistant members interested in donating to Zidisha can choose just a portion (or all!) of their cash back earnings to go to Zidisha.

If you need more help then you can see how to use Giving Assistant to shop online and donate to a nonprofit here – how Giving Assistant works here.

If you haven’t already you can also download the Giving Assistant button cash back extension for your desktop browser.

Get the Giving Assistant browser extension

This will help you to start easily support the Zidisha nonprofit AND save money on your everyday online purchases at thousands of online retailers.

Not a member yet? Sign up here to start supporting Zidisha as you shop online.

If you’d like to learn more about funding a loan to an individual or entrepreneur like Bineta in Senegal, visit Zidisha