Carnegie Corporation of NY honors Premal Shah, co-founder of global poverty alleviation non-profit Kiva

Premal Shah. PHOTO: Linkedin @premal

The Carnegie Corporation of New York celebrates remarkable American immigrants every year on the Fourth of July — all naturalized citizens — who it sees as having enriched and strengthened US democracy through their actions and contributions. This year, among the several honorees of Indian origin was Premal Shah, co-founder of Kiva, a global poverty alleviation non-profit that has raised more than $2 billion since its founding, and lent the money to low-income entrepreneurs in 150 countries.

This “2024 Class of Great Immigrants” comprised of citizens from 16 countries. These honorees represent a wide range of backgrounds and are recognized for their work in public service, education, health, journalism, the arts, and business, among other fields, the press release from CCNY said. Shah was one of several individuals of Indian origin selected for the honor.

Born in India and brought up in Minnesota, Shah attended Stanford University. After working for PayPal, he co-founded Kiva in 2005.

The CCNY honor is the lates of several awards and recognitions Shah has received in the past, including being named a Champion of Change by the Obama White House and being listed as one of Fortune magazine’s “40 Under 40.”

Kiva (the Swahili word for unity) provides the more than 1.7 billion unbanked people around the world with the financial services they need. Kiva works by crowdfunding loans from small donors to entrepreneurs; 8 in 10 loans go to women, and the repayment rate is 96 percent.

Shah’s interest in microfinance began at Stanford, then took root during a sabbatical from PayPal when he worked on a peer-to-peer loaning concept in India. After returning to Silicon Valley, Shah and three coworkers left PayPal to bring Kiva to life.

Asked what he considered his greatest success, Shah is quoted saying in the Carnegie website profile, “Somewhere along my journey I realized the difference between gaining a sense of achievement as an entrepreneur and gaining fulfillment. I realized my desire was not only to be an entrepreneur but a social entrepreneur … to measure my successes and riches through the lives I’ve touched and the positive change that I am lucky to be a part of.”

In 2019 Shah shifted from president to senior advisor at Kiva to become president of Branch International, which provides app-based microfinance services across India and Africa. In 2021 he cofounded, a “Kiva for climate,” which he chairs.

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