Add to this a drumbeat of high-profile attention and endorsements — from the PBS series “Frontline/World,” the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, Bill Clinton — and you get spikes in demand normally associated with limited-edition luxury products.... NY Times articles are written about 10 weeks in advance and so we checked the site and a review makes it seem that Kiva have got some of its field staff out there to find more needy folk to lend to since Rob penned the piece.

Rob Walker's column in the January 27 New York Times magazine highlights the success of microlending site Kiva.org. After receiving more than $19.5 million worth of loans from more than 220,000 individual, the site (which we featured in December 2006) ran out of entrepreneurs in developing countries. Rob comments:

The venture started in 2005, a time when skepticism about, for example, whether the huge sums donated to tsunami relief efforts were doing any good. It also dovetailed with an increased interest in a more capitalistic version of philanthropy that felt more like investing than simply giving. Add to this a drumbeat of high-profile attention and endorsements — from the PBS series “Frontline/World,” the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, Bill Clinton — and you get spikes in demand normally associated with limited-edition luxury products. After Kiva was featured on “Oprah” this past September, for instance, “we sold out,” as Ramsey puts it. Since the holidays, individual loans have been capped at $25, to give as many people as possible the chance to participate.

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