Case Study

Using Deadlines to Increase Access to Good Debt


Kiva U.S., a non-profit organization, crowdfunds interest-free loans to small businesses in the United States. The organization was looking to increase the number of potential small business owners who complete their application for funding. The application process was previously filled with unnecessary barriers. Procrastination often leads to applications never being completed. How could we increase the likelihood that an applicant completes the application and gains access to a 0% interest loan?


Applicants received one of two emails: one with a deadline and one without. We also tested response rates when offering additional rewards for completing an application.


complited loan applications | Good Debt | Budget management

The experimental group (including a deadline) received 24% more completed applications than the control group, resulting in at least 12% more small business owners receiving an interest-free loan. When offering an additional reward for submitting early (moving to the front of the line), the number of completed applications increased by 26% over just having one deadline.

Why it matters

By re-thinking deadlines and rewards, hundreds of qualified borrowers can achieve their small business dreams by getting access to good credit. In our study, small interventions led to over $190,000 in additional credit for small business owners (80% of whom are women and minorities). Going forward, Kiva US can use such insights to increase the likelihood of completed applications.

Note: This project was possible through the Common Cents Lab initiative, supported by MetLife Foundation

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