Kiva Zip is a pilot program, launched by Kiva.org, to drive innovations in person-to-person lending. We provide 0% interest loans up to $5,000 for small businesses and entrepreneurs who are financially excluded and underserved. These loans are ‘crowd-funded’ by individual lenders on the Kiva Zip website, connecting entrepreneurs with dozens of lenders who can be potential brand ambassadors and customers to their business.
By enabling existing businesses to survive and grow, and by enabling new businesses to take root, Kiva Zip is creating jobs and encouraging economic empowerment. In our first year, we helped create over 100 jobs and we are just getting started...
Kiva has three principal aims for the Kiva Zip program:
1) Expand borrowers’ access to capital, by making loans to borrowers who would not qualify for conventional loans
2) Lower the financial costs of borrowers by leveraging new technologies (e.g. disbursing loans via Paypal)
3) Enhance the personal connections between Kiva lenders and borrowers by enabling them to communicate on the Zip website
Over the past 12 months we have supported 130 entrepreneurs in 28 states, partnering with 80 organizations that provide business support and technical assistance to underserved entrepreneurs. Many of these entrepreneurs have been unable to find work and have chosen to start their own business to become financially independent. These entrepreneurs aren’t able to access traditional forms of financing because of their economic situations and Kiva Zip is helping them realize their hopes of opening a business.
Our focus of poverty alleviation goes hand in hand with job creation. Our program enables entrepreneurs to become financially independent, but also helps them create jobs in their communities. One entrepreneur, Victor, started a café with his Kiva Zip loan. He’s created five jobs and is currently fundraising for a subsequent $10,000 Kiva Zip loan so he can open up another café. He’s also endorsed three of his friends who have successfully fundraised and launched their own businesses. Another entrepreneur, Teresa, was able to hire at risk, formerly incarcerated, and foster care youth as chefs for her restaurant.
Kiva Zip aims to empower the most disadvantaged in our society. The median income of Kiva Zip borrowers is less than $30,000 per year; and 54% of borrowers are African American and Latin American – communities that have historically been particularly financially excluded. We’ve helped a former prison inmate start his own non profit, a single mom of eleven children start a Hot Dog Cart, a disabled veteran launch a BBQ sauce business, a student start a moving services business, among dozens of others who only needed a small boost to help them start a business and be in a position to employ others.
A monetary contribution would help the Kiva Zip program hire new staff. Currently, we are stretched thin, with three full time staff focused on our entire US expansion. We have specific objectives for 2013 that require more engineers, project managers, and program staff. Our goal is to move from 100 borrowers in 2012, to 500 in 2013, and 2,000 in 2014. In order for us to scale as a program we need more resources and human capital.