First, an important warning: Zidisha is not a financial institution or an investment service. This means that it is not intended as a place to store your savings or financial assets. So we suggest that you treat lending through Zidisha as a philanthropic activity — and as always, don’t lend out any funds that you cannot afford to lose.
We make lending easy, but we don’t take it lightly — so we take a variety of measures to strengthen the security of our lending platform and put confidence behind your compassion.
First, we verify the identity of our entrepreneurs by:
- Collecting their precise residential addresses, telephone numbers, and national identity numbers before allowing them to post a loan application.
- Requiring applicants in most countries to verify their online identity by linking an active personal Facebook account to their Zidisha account.
- Disbursing loans through banks and payment services that check government-issued identity cards to verify recipients' identity.
- Requiring entrepreneurs to provide telephone numbers of several local contacts that can vouch for their identity and reputation, before raising loans of substantial size.
- Using data science to screen entrepreneur accounts for suspicious activity before activating new entrepreneurs and disbursing loans.
- Inviting local volunteer mentors to provide a second screening of loan applicants before they may raise substantial amounts.
Then we help incentivize timely and responsible repayments by:
- Limiting loan sizes to small amounts for new entrepreneurs and increasing those limits only if they maintain high on-time repayment rates over time.
- Linking entrepreneurs' credit limits to the repayment performance of other entrepreneurs they referred to Zidisha.
- Displaying entrepreneurs' historical on-time repayment rates — and those of the entrepreneurs who invited them to join Zidisha, if applicable — so prospective lenders can evaluate their repayment track records.
- Displaying comments and feedback ratings left by previous lenders on entrepreneurs' loan profile pages.
- Notifying and requesting mediation from local references, volunteer mentors, or leaders in the entrepreneur's community in the event of default.
That said, it's important to understand that Zidisha is a purely online service without local offices or loan officers. Our organization is responsible only for maintaining the Zidisha website as a platform for the transactions that take place between its members, and it is up to the lenders, not Zidisha, to determine if a business is viable and worthy of being funded.
To keep our service affordable, we do not undertake many of the activities that are performed by traditional banks and microfinance institutions, including:
- Fact-checking or guarantees that the information provided by entrepreneurs is accurate.
- Physical visits to entrepreneurs. Local volunteers may optionally visit entrepreneurs, but this is not guaranteed or required.
- Verification and reporting to lenders of how loan funds have been spent.
- Repayment enforcement, guarantees or providing reports of collection efforts to lenders.