By: Jenara Nerenberg
October 20, 2010
Kiva announced today--on the one-year anniversary of their entrance into the U.S. market--an aggressive expansion into the Gulf Coast region, funded by a $1 million dollar donation from Visa, and spurred by a new partnership with ACCION Texas-Louisiana. The announcement comes just one month after Kiva, an online global micro-lending site, diversified into higher education loans , indicating the San Francisco-based non-profit is doing pretty well.
"The power of microfinance to my business? [It provides] Accessibility to working capital to fund construction jobs at the front end," New Orleans borrower Damion Jeanpiere, pictured above, tells Fast Company.
Jeanpiere had a successful construction business prior to Hurricane Katrina that was thrashed when the storm hit. And after building it back up again, the oil spill forced him to lay off several employees and he was almost forced to let go of several high-return construction contracts.
"Because I was just starting out, I didn't have a commercial credit history. Without these microloans, keeping my business would have been a challenge. The business environment before the oil spill was such that a traditional loan wasn't possible. We took our first ACCION Texas-Louisiana loan just before the oil spill, and it carried us through until another big project came along," Jeanpiere says.
Kiva President Premal Shah said in a press release: "We see this partnership with Visa as a meaningful opportunity to empower small business owners and help revive the U.S. economy, starting with a region in urgent need."
Visa Executive William Sheedy added, "This partnership advances a shared mission of both Visa and Kiva: helping small businesses grow and ultimately create jobs. For many small business owners, a microloan can have an immediate impact and be a critical catalyst for their long-term success."
ACCION was recently rated the world's most effective non-profit microfinance institution  and their regional entity, ACCION Texas-Louisiana will allow Kiva lenders to directly support and stimulate local economies that have been battered in recent years.
ACCION's portfolio will also get a boost.
"The Gulf Coast has been hit hard by the economic recession and several disasters. Small businesses are critical to recovery and with Kiva lenders we will be able to invest in even more entrepreneurs," said founding president and CEO of ACCIÓN Texas-Louisiana, Janie Barrera, in the press release.
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