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Columbus Entrepreneurs Connecting To No-Cost Loans

Kiva City logo
Kiva City
Kiva City logo

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther's State of the City talked about supporting small businesses with no cost loans during his State of the City speech last month.

"Columbus is committed to becoming a KIVA City, a partnership of local community groups and microfinance organizations working together to connect lenders with entrepreneurs,” said Ginther.

Over the past seven months, 16 entrepreneurs have signed on to become part of KIVA City.

The below transcript is an automated transcript of the above conversation. Please excuse minor typos and errors.

Debbie Holmes: Reese Neader is heading up the Kiva City effort here in Columbus. Thanks a lot for joining us.

Reese Neader: Thank you Debbie it's good to be here.

DH: So tell me about the program and the effort to get more entrepreneurs access to funding for their businesses.

RN: So Kiva provides zero interest, zero fee loans of up to $5,000 for first time borrowers and up to $10,000 for second time borrowers.

DH: Explain the name Kiva to our listeners.

RN: So Kiva is a Swahili name. Originally Kiva's headquartered in San Francisco. It was originally created as an international nonprofit that provided micro loans to borrowers in the developing world and specifically in sub-Saharan Africa. So Kiva got its first start in Kenya, and so the program was named for a Swahili word that would connote a sense of familiarity.

DH: Here in the United States it's been going on for a few years now. Columbus will be I think you said the 13th city. RN: That's right. DH: So tell me exactly, like how much money is being raised to be a part of this effort?

RN: So to become a Kiva city, the city of Columbus is partnering with Kiva to raise $250,000 in grants support that goes towards launching a Kiva Columbus website so that we can connect global lenders to entrepreneurs in Columbus. And then it's also going towards supporting future fellowships and the partnerships that are being created to support small businesses in the city.

DH: Is there any goal for how many businesses you'd like to start then in this venture?

RN: So our goal is that we're going to fully fund 100 loans every single year, and that we hope to grow that by bringing on more staff in the future.

DH: And these loans are small amounts.

RN: Yes. So we're talking about micro loans. Loans of up to $5,000 dollars for first time borrowers and up to $10,000 dollars for second time borrowers.

DH: And what kind of businesses are we trying then to develop here?

RN: So Kiva is specifically targeted to support micro enterprises. These are businesses with five employees or less. Every entrepreneur has a different story. Every business is trying to do something different. To date, 15 of the 16 loans that Kiva has funded in Columbus have gone towards creative businesses. So whether that's scalable retail, food and beverage, fashion or arts and culture, it seems to be a very popular way for entrepreneurs in Columbus to connect with Kiva.

DH: Are you targeting certain neighborhoods like the Hilltop or Franklinton, the Linden area?

RN: We're specifically trying to work with entrepreneurs across the city by building partnerships with nonprofits and local government, but it is a priority to work in neighborhoods of need. To date, many of our loans have gone to entrepreneurs in Linden, the south side, the near east side and more recently in Franklinton as well.

DH: Now will there be assistance for these businesses ongoing, once everything is launched?

RN: So building a Kiva city is about more than access to capital it's also about building a coalition of support between local government, nonprofits and business leaders to support the micro enterprises that are actually driving the job growth in this city. So it's about connecting resources together, making them more efficient and then being able to provide valuable low interest capital to the entrepreneurs who need it.

DH: And how does Columbus stack up then to other cities who are Kiva cities?

RN: So Louisville, Pittsburgh, Detroit are all Kiva cities, Little Rock, Arkansas, Newark, New Jersey. Every city that becomes a Kiva city has a different story and different needs, but Columbus in particular compared to other mid-size cities in the country does have an issue with availability and access to capital.

DH: I've been talking with Reese Neader with Kiva city. It's an effort to raise money for no interest loans for entrepreneurs to establish their businesses. Thanks a lot for joining me. RN: Thank you Debbie.