by Marie LeBlanc, Community Partnerships Coordinator
For the past decade or so, microlending and microfinance have been a hot topic in international aid and development — and through microlending organizations like Kiva, an easy way for concerned global citizens from higher income countries to offer a helping hand to their brethren in lower income countries. Kiva is one of many crowd-sourcing organizations that lets donors lend amounts as small as $25 to collectively support micro-entrepreneurs around the world, who pay back those funds (through Kiva) to the original lenders. Nowadays, small business creation and entrepreneurship are very much at the heart of the conversation about kick-starting the United States economy, and Kiva has responded with an interesting solution: bring the international microfinance model to American cities.
This week, Kiva City launched its DC program, in partnership with Capital One Bank and Catalogue-nonprofit Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC). Kiva City DC is a new online portal connecting small business owners in our nation’s capital with Kiva’s global network of over 870,000 lenders. By providing loans to these entrepreneurs, lenders can help them start, sustain and grow their businesses — and even create new jobs. Kiva City DC is the fourth Kiva City site across the country — along with Detroit, New Orleans, and Los Angeles.
Capital One is helping to provide financial heft for the project — matching all loans made to businesses posted by LEDC online through Kiva through 2013. LEDC provides the borrower base, bringing its expertise in financial and small business skill building to the table, as well as its connections to the Latino community in Washington, DC. LEDC’s Community Asset Fund for Entrepreneurs works to identify qualifying borrowers in the D.C. area, administers the loans and posts profiles of each small business owner online at kiva.org. According to the Kiva City DC website, “Kiva lenders’ funds are used to ease the loan requirements for borrowers, including decreasing collateral requirements, interest rates and fees associated with loan disbursement. With Kiva capital, LEDC will reach out to borrowers that may not have met all of LEDC’s existing criteria, allowing the organization to grow its lending program.”
For more information on borrowers currently seeking loans through Kiva and LEDC, check out borrower profiles online here, and for information on recommending the lending process to potential borrowers, check out LEDC’s online application .