AOL Small Business News
By: Tamara Schweitzer Raben
June 29, 2011
Kiva.org and Visa launched a new partnership to bring microloans to U.S. small businesses in areas most affected by the economic downturn, such as Detroit.
Microlending website Kiva.org and Visa announced the launch of a new partnership program on Wednesday called Kiva City, to help small-business owners in underserved communities get access to microloans. The initiative was announced on stage by President Bill Clinton during the kickoff to Clinton Global Initiative America.
Kiva.org, which started in 2005, allows anyone to make a microloan through the Internet to entrepreneurs in developing countries. Since then, 577,000 entrepreneurs in 59 countries have received microloans totaling $223 million. Two years ago, Kiva.org expanded its offerings by allowing U.S.-based entrepreneurs to apply for microloans. In keeping with CGI America's mission of developing ideas that will help foster economic recovery in the U.S., the Kiva City program will focus on targeting the small-business communities that have been most affected by the economic downturn, and will raise awareness for the availability of additional access to capital through Kiva microloans.
According to Kiva.org, the average size of a Kiva loan in the United States is $7,000, and entrepreneurs can use it for anything from funding operations and purchasing equipment to paying rent and hiring new employees. Kiva.org and Visa also commissioned a study that looked at small-business trends in 50 metropolitan areas to determine trouble spots. On Wednesday, Kiva City launched in its first city: Detroit, which the study ranked fifth in terms of greatest loss of small businesses during the recession. Three Detroit small businesses got funded within three hours of the launch. Some of the other areas where Kiva City plans to roll out the program are Cleveland, Miami, Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio.
"The needs in the U.S. are widespread, and many regions simply don't have microfinance institutions operating at scale," Kiva.org president Premal Shah said in a statement. "Now, spurred by Visa's commitment to small business, we are able to expand our reach and, as a result, open new avenues of capital for small business owners across the country."
To learn more about how to bring the Kiva City program to your area, visit Kiva.org/kivacity.