May 23, 2017

Kiva Rochester offers unique way to get small business loan

You’ve probably heard of Kickstarter as a crowd-funding way to raise money for your business or start-up. But what about Kiva?

Brad Willows, project coordinator for Kiva Rochester, shared information at the RHBA’s meeting on Nov. 15 at Monte Alban in Irondequoit.

Kiva Rochester is an exciting new opportunity to help lift people out of poverty. The way Kiva works is pretty simple. An entrepreneur applies for a loan and the application goes through an underwriting and approval process. Once approved, Kiva posts information about the entrepreneur on its website, and people who want to do good can lend money in sums as small as $25.

What also makes Kiva unique from traditional lenders is that applicants don’t have to share tax records, their credit score, or their Social Security number, Willows said.

Through the city’s partnership with Kiva, borrowers can get a loan of up to $10,000 from online lenders. The city has set up a matching loan fund that totals $100,000. If a qualified borrower receives $5,000 from lenders, the city will match it with another $5,000.

So far, the City of Rochester has submitted 33 loan applications to Kiva. Before Kiva approves a loan, the applicant needs to get friends or family to contribute a portion of the loan request, to show the applicant’s trustworthiness. Right now, 12 people are in the process of gathering contributions to show their trustworthiness.

Kiva has approved 9 loans (with a total of $34,500) so far for Rochester applicants.

Willows, who speaks Spanish, would like to do more outreach to the Latino community to help them learn about Kiva. He also wants to conduct Kiva workshops in Spanish. For more information or to connect with Brad, you can call him at (585) 428-6053 or email him at Bradley.willows@cityofrochester.gov.