Kiva seeks to level the entrepreneurial playing field. The microloan crowdfunding platform offers startup funding options for those with few resources. Profit is not the motive, yet Kiva is not a charity. The loans must be repaid.
In December 2015, Kiva launched Kiva NYC as part of its effort to expand in cities across the United States. Kiva President and Co-founder Premal Shah explains Kiva’s purpose and gives a general overview of how the funding platform works.
What is the philosophy behind Kiva?
Kiva.org was founded in 2005 to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty and expand economic opportunity. We operate in the United States. and more than 80 countries. So far, nearly 1.5 million people have crowdfunded $850 million in loans to two million entrepreneurs. In 2011, Kiva began crowdfunding small business loans in the United States with a focus on borrowers who are financially excluded or who are socially impactful. The loans are offered at zero percent interest with no fees, and are available regardless of credit score or type of small business.
How does Kiva work?
For lenders: Lenders can choose the entrepreneur they want to help crowdfund with a loan as small as $25, which is added to the borrower’s Kiva page until the project is fully crowdfunded. As the entrepreneur repays, lenders can re-lend to another person on Kiva or withdraw their money. Neither lenders nor Kiva makes any money off of these loans.
For borrowers: Kiva’s loans focus on aided businesses who are strengthening their communities. These loans can go up to $10,000 and are offered at zero percent interest and no fees, minimum credit score, years of operation or collateral. Rare among crowdfunding sites, 90 percent of the loan requests on Kiva are fully fundraised.
Are potential borrowers required to show a track record of business success?
Borrowers are not required to show a track record of business success, but there are places in their crowdfunding page to explain their business, their personal story, their business plan and purpose of their loan. Roughly one-third of Kiva’s U.S. small business loans go to those who are just starting their business. We believe this is important because entrepreneurs just starting out are denied loans simply because they haven’t opened their doors yet.
What types of businesses are most successful at attracting lenders?
Small farmers in both rural and urban settings are most successful at funding, however, the vast majority of borrowers reach their funding goal. The key is to communicate your personal story, why you need a Kiva loan rather than a traditional loan, a clear business description and a clear purpose for the loan. Even better, describe how your small business is part of your community and making a social impact.
This article was written by Gillian Burdett for Small Business Pulse
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