Since its inception in 2005, the microlending website Kiva.org has funded more than one million loans that total over $1 billion in value, and in the process, has given entrepreneurs around the world access to capital they would not otherwise have.
Kiva has focused on alleviating poverty in developing countries, and in particular on providing startup capital to women, who in many parts of the world lack equal access to capital or labor markets because of patriarchal culture and strict division of labor along gender lines.
The microlending organization realized that some populations within the U.S. also lacked access to capital, so the Kiva Zip program—piloted starting in 2011, and rolled out widely across the U.S. in 2015—was created. While Kiva’s loans in developing countries are typically administered by a partner organization, in the U.S., entrepreneurs get their loans directly from Kiva (with the funds still coming from individual lenders who contribute through the Kiva website).
Now, entrepreneurs in Wisconsin’s minority business communities can get an extra boost, as WEDC and the state’s minority chambers of commerce have teamed up to provide matching funds for Kiva loans that are funded for Wisconsin entrepreneurs whose projects have been approved through the chambers.
Anyone who is at least 18 years old and has a business in the U.S. can apply for a Kiva loan. If the loan is endorsed through one of the participating chambers, this turns on matching funds, which can help to decrease the amount of time it takes for a borrower to raise the full loan amount.
The organizations partnering with WEDC for this matching program include the African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin, the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin and the Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce.
“We are thrilled with the support from the participating Wisconsin minority revolving loan fund trustees and WEDC,” says Nichole Crust, the Kiva Wisconsin program lead. “These matching funds will allow minority small business owners to maximize the financial support received through Kiva’s crowdsourced fundraising site to help them grow their businesses.”
Those looking to fund a loan or browse loan projects already approved for matching can visit kiva.org. Those seeking information about applying for matching funds through this program should contact Nichole Crust at 414.610.8675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.