Big ideas can spring up at any time, regardless of availability of funds. Unfortunately, far too often these ideas cannot be realized because the entrepreneurs behind them don’t have sufficient capital to launch a business. Kiva City Milwaukee is working to alleviate this problem by linking business ideas with the money necessary to launch them.

Kiva City Milwaukee is a crowdfunding program that allows lenders to connect with hopeful borrowers by choosing to support the entrepreneur whose story most strongly resonates with them. After a borrower is selected, Kiva City’s field partners vet, disseminate and administer the loans, while lenders receive updates on their borrowers’ progress. Once the business starts making money and is self-sustaining, the entrepreneurs repay their loans, and the lenders, in turn, can choose to keep the funds, donate them to Kiva or lend them to a new business.

The Kiva City program operates on the mantra of “character over credit,” meaning borrowers’ eligibility is assessed based on their trust network instead of their credit history and bank statements. This allows promising ideas to rise to the top regardless of a person’s current financial situation.

Lenders can lend in amounts as small as $25, with all funds going directly to the borrower.

Milwaukee is just one of a network of Kiva Cities throughout the nation. Kiva’s various programs have connected 1.5 million lenders to 2.1 million borrowers across 83 different countries, for a total of more than $880 million; the repayment rate on loans has been 97.1 percent. Learn more about the program or apply.