‘It adds up:’ Non-profit crowdfunding micro-loans to Rochester businesses

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) – Kiva is a global nonprofit that has partnered with the City of Rochester to help fund local businesses.

Elizabeth Ingham, access manager at Kiva Capitol, said the organization is focused on empowering entrepreneurs with small business loans.

“Kiva has this online community,” Ingham said. “Basically a few million lenders who regularly go online and lend small amounts to small businesses.”

Ingham said the amounts could be as small as $25.

“Which isn’t a lot for one person, but when you have a couple million people lending, it adds up pretty quickly,” Ingham added.

The Kiva organization started out lending internationally, but after the 2008 recession, local business owners needed financing for their businesses.

One business owner who has benefited from the loans is Rosa Marie, president of Marvelous Mind Academy.

Marie said the loans she’s received have been used to make their learning space neurodivergent-friendly, with things like wallpaper for art, responsive wall lights that react to music, sound, and to the touch, and a work room for the parents. Marie said the loans have been a big help.

“It’s one thing to have vision, courage and passion, but you can’t go further without money. As an entrepreneur, getting financing, especially as a start-up from a commercial lender, is difficult, Marie said. “Kiva facilitates the process, they rely on your social impact, your social network to validate your solvency.”

Due to her success, she encourages other start-up business owners to apply as well.

“We were able to benefit from a zero interest loan. like, this is unheard of for start-ups, isn’t it? It’s just an amazing opportunity for people to get their dreams funded. I would support him one hundred percent. I did it twice,” Marie said.

Kiva has been crowdfunding for almost a decade here in Rochester and their success is on the rise.

“Since 2016, we have more than 168 companies financed and each of them are micro-loans. I think our average loan size is about $5,700. so in total, if you add up all the loans to the Rochester business, we’re close to hitting $1 million,” Ingham said.

Kiva Rochester will host a million dollar celebration thanks to its crowdfunding success. The event will take place at the International Plaza on August 8 from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

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