Through the KIVA platform, anyone can apply for one regardless of their credit, and anyone can pledge $25 or more to help fund a loan anywhere in the world. Clothing Designer Stephen Curd used an $8,000 KIVA loan last summer to expand his business, Lavelle Manufacturing, in Glade Spring, Va. The loan allowed him to pay for equipment and contractors and fueled his company’s growth enough that he is now in the process of hiring a full-time seamstress.
“A loan came at a perfect time to expand,” Curd says. “The fact that it’s a no-interest loan and we’ve got three years to pay it off was defi nitely helpful.”
Although KIVA loans don’t require a good credit score, applicants must go through an approval process that includes a solid plan for repayment. Lenders provide funds online and are gradually repaid by the borrower, after which lenders can withdraw their money or re-invest it in another business.
A coalition of community development and business support organizations called Opportunity SWVA serves as a trustee for Southwest Virginia businesses applying for KIVA loans, which means that the organization is listed online as vouching for the entrepreneurs. Including Lavelle Manufacturing, Three of the businesses they have supported — Lavelle Manufacturing, Sugar Hill Brewing Company and Adventure Mendota — have received KIVA loans.
“I think KIVA is a really cool opportunity for small businesses,” Curd says.
Visit KIVA.org for more information.