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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

One of Facebook's launch partners in its new cryptocurrency Libra is Kiva, a nonprofit that has married the concept of third-world microloans to first-world crowdfunding.

Catch up quick: Ordinary Americans use Kiva to lend money to some of the poorest people in the world, receiving 0% interest in dollars. The dollars go to microfinance institutions in more than 80 countries, which convert them to local currency and then lend them out to individuals who have to repay the loans with interest.

  • Kiva's model of giving its investors a 0% return has been reasonably successful: It has lent a total of $1.3 billion over the past decade, with a 97% repayment rate. But when it comes to refugees in particular, the numbers are much lower: Since it started offering loans to refugees in 2016, Kiva has totaled just $12.5 million in loans.

So, Kiva is introducing the Kiva Refugee Investment Fund, a lending vehicle aimed at impact investors seeking a positive return. The fund will be part of Kiva Capital Management, a new shop that will join what the Global Impact Investing Network estimates as the $502 billion market for investments aimed at positive social change.

  • "Impact investing" is not particularly well defined. The RealReal, for instance, a luxury-goods marketplace going public this week, has attracted capital from impact investors like DBL Partners on the grounds that it "promotes sustainability by extending the lifespan of upscale goods."
  • The impact investing universe is also relatively small: The $502 billion stock of impact investing funds globally is significantly less effective than the $428 billion flow of funds donated to charity by Americans alone in 2018.

The bottom line: A recent UBS survey of 443 asset managers controlling more than $20 trillion among them found that 78% of them actively take ESG (environmental, social and governance) factors into account when making investments. But it's hard to see what difference that has made. More focused impact investors tend to be keener on quantifying their impact — and efforts to do that on a comparable basis are still at a very early stage.

Go deeper: Global refugees face increasing risk of long-term displacement

Go deeper

Resurrecting Martin Luther King's office

King points to Selma, Alabama on a map at his Southern Christian Leadership Conference office in Atlanta in January 1965. Photo: Bettmann/Getty Contributor

Efforts to save the office where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., planned some of the most important moments of the civil rights movement are hitting roadblocks amid a political stalemate.

Why it matters: The U.S. Park Service needs to OK agreements so a developer restoring the historic Prince Hall Masonic Lodge in Atlanta — which once housed King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference — can tap into private funding and begin work.

Off the Rails

Episode 4: Trump turns on Barr

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Drew Angerer, Pool/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 4: Trump torches what is arguably the most consequential relationship in his Cabinet.

Attorney General Bill Barr stood behind a chair in the private dining room next to the Oval Office, looming over Donald Trump. The president sat at the head of the table. It was Dec. 1, nearly a month after the election, and Barr had some sharp advice to get off his chest. The president's theories about a stolen election, Barr told Trump, were "bullshit."

In photos: Protests outside fortified capitols draw only small groups

Armed members of the far-right extremist group the Boogaloo Bois near the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing on Jan. 17. About 20 protesters showed up, AP notes. Photo: Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

Small groups of protesters gathered outside fortified statehouses across the U.S. over the weekend ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

The big picture: Some protests attracted armed members of far-right extremist groups but there were no reports of clashes, as had been feared. The National Guard and law enforcement outnumbered demonstrators, as security was heightened around the U.S. to avoid a repeat of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, per AP.