Looking For Lenders In All The Right Places….
Micro-lending program KivaZip has taken of since launching in February, spinning out of almost 40 loans for local entrepreneurs. Now it wants you, you and also you.
Through Kiva, local “trustees” register their support for a business or entrepreneur. Once a trustee vouches for them, Kiva features that person or business on its crowdfunding site. The idea is that businesses that might otherwise struggle to find funding receive micro-loans to start off, but can build toward larger amounts if they pay back those zero-interest, zero-fee initial loans.
Anyone can be a lender, kicking in money for local businesses on the Kiva platform that will be repaid over time. If too few lenders participate, all money is refunded.
Two Wisconsin entrepreneurs’ campaigns have expired due to lack of lenders so far, said Kiva’s Milwaukee fellow, Lauren Stinson.
“That is one thing we don’t want,” said Stinson, who’s trying to expand awareness of the program in Milwaukee.
Unlike better-known crowdfunding portals such as Kickstarter, Kiva entrepreneurs are backed by lenders, not donors. The minimum is $5, although most lenders contribute an average of $25.
Those lenders’ motivation? Altruism, essentially. Although the loans get repaid, entrepreneurs don’t pay interest, so a large part of the motive is empowering local businesses, Stinson said.
The San Francisco-based program put out feelers in Milwaukee in 2014, planting a permanent local offshoot here earlier this year. It partners locally with Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp. and the city of Milwaukee, which contributed $25,000 to the program through this year’s budget.
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