(PRESS RELEASE – July 7, 2011) – Kiva.org, the world’s first personal microlending website, and Visa Inc. (NYSE: V), a global leader in payments, recently announced Kiva City, a new program that will extend small business access to microloans in U.S. cities with the greatest need. The Kiva City program is the latest component of Visa’s partnership with Kiva to help U.S. small businesses by expanding their awareness and understanding of microfinance opportunities. The Kiva City program, kicking off in Detroit, was launched as part of a commitment announced today by President Bill Clinton on stage at the Clinton Global Initiative America conference in Chicago.
Kiva City aims to spur job growth and economic recovery by connecting Kiva’s global network of 592,000 individual lenders with the owners of small businesses throughout the country. With very few microfinance institutions operating at scale in the U.S., Kiva City helps address this challenge by tapping the power of local communities to come together and bring Kiva to their city, particularly those whose small business communities have been most impacted by the recent economic downturn. According to a new study by the Economist Intelligence Unit, commissioned by Kiva and Visa, 20 of the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas have lost at least one percent of their small businesses from 2006 to 2008. This represents approximately 15,000 businesses.
The Kiva City program launches in Detroit, which ranked fifth in the study’s list of the top U.S. small business trouble spots. The microloans, made possible through Kiva’s lending partnership with microlender ACCION USA, a member of the ACCION Network in the U.S., will offer Detroit area small businesses an additional option for accessing capital that can be used to fund operations, ranging from purchasing equipment and paying rent, to hiring and retaining employees, to offering promotions.
“Since launching in the U.S. two years ago, we have worked with our partners to replicate our successful global model, empowering each and every American to help our economy by adding as little as $25 to a small business owner’s loan,” said Premal Shah, president of Kiva.org. “But as our study shows, the needs in the U.S. are widespread and many regions simply don’t have microfinance institutions operating at scale. 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.”
How the Program Works
With Kiva City, civic leaders and community members alike have the opportunity to effect meaningful change. The new program extends Kiva’s Internet-based lending model to underserved communities throughout the country—even where microfinance institutions have yet to establish local branches. Working in concert with Kiva and microlending partners, communities join forces and commit the resources to conduct on-the-ground outreach to small business owners to support the three components of microlending: sourcing the businesses to apply for microloans, administering the loans and funding the loans. The average size of Kiva’s field partner loans in the U.S. is $7,000.
“ACCION USA is the vital link between Kiva lenders, communities and the small business owners in Detroit who need our help,” said Gina Harman, President and CEO of ACCION Network in the U.S. “With the visibility, community group connections and committed loan funds provided by Kiva, we believe Kiva City and its launch in Detroit will serve as a model for bringing solutions to more cities across America.”
Detroit became the first Kiva City in partnership with Michigan Corps, a social network of local and global Michiganders committed to positive change in their home state. “Through our partnership with Kiva and ACCION USA, we’ve been able to bring the tools of microfinance to our neighborhood businesses so that they can invest in their growth. Through local networking events, church gatherings, and neighborhood BBQs, we have built an engaged community of small business owners and lenders alike. Detroit is proud to be the pioneer of the Kiva City model.” said Anuja Jaitly, co-founder and executive director of Michigan Corps.
U.S. Small Business Trouble Spots
The Kiva and Visa Study of Small Business Trouble Spots looked at small business trends in the 50 largest metropolitan areas to identify the degree of small business stress there. Some of the more heavily affected regions, like Detroit, also experienced decreases in their employment levels by more than five percent.
The ten regions that experienced the greatest losses of small businesses were:
- Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, Ohio
- Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Florida
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Columbus, Ohio
- Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Michigan
- Orlando-Kissimmee, Florida
- Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota/Wisconsin
- Kansas City, Missouri/Kansas
- Providence-New Bedford-Fall River, Rhode Island/Massachusetts
- Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wisconsin
“Our work, which includes providing products, services and resources to the small business community, confirms that while the economic challenges that small businesses have faced recently are very real, small business owners are resilient and optimistic,” said William M. Sheedy, Group President, Americas, Visa. “We are pleased to continue to work in partnership with organizations like Kiva to help serve small business owners and spur job creation.”
Kiva.org is the world’s first personal microlending website, empowering individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. Founded in 2005, Kiva.org’s mission is to connect people, through lending, to alleviate poverty. Over 595,000 people have loaned more than $223 million to 577,000 entrepreneurs in 59 countries. Kiva.org is headquartered in San Francisco.
Visa is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions and governments in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable digital currency. Underpinning digital currency is one of the world’s most advanced processing networks—VisaNet—that is capable of handling more than 20,000 transaction messages a second, with fraud protection for consumers and guaranteed payment for merchants. Visa is not a bank and does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers. Visa’s innovations, however, enable its financial institution customers to offer consumers more choices: pay now with debit, ahead of time with prepaid or later with credit products.
About Michigan Corps
Michigan Corps is a social network of local and global Michiganders committed to change in our home state. Founded in Detroit in 2010, Michigan Corps builds online and offline community among Michiganders everywhere (i.e. “Corps Members”) while also launching innovative education and entrepreneurship projects across the state.
About ACCION USA and ACCION Network in the U.S
ACCION USA is a non-profit organization leader in U.S. microfinance dedicated to providing microentrepreneurs and individuals on the economic margin with the crucial chance to access capital and develop greater financial literacy. ACCION USA loans range from $500-$25,000 and are offered nationwide.
ACCION USA is a member of the ACCION Network in the U.S. is the largest microfinance network in the United States, having lent in aggregate over $290 million in over 40,000 loans to small businesses since 1991. Through their small business lending and financial education programs, the Network members have fostered job creation, increases in family income, and lasting economic vibrancy for small business owners and their communities nationwide. Members of the ACCION Network include ACCION Chicago, ACCION New Mexico, Arizona & Colorado, ACCION San Diego, ACCION Texas-Louisiana, and ACCION USA.
About the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) and CGI America
CGI America is a new Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) event focused on developing ideas for fostering economic recovery in the U.S. Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, CGI convenes global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Since 2005, CGI Annual Meetings have brought together nearly 150 current and former heads of state, 18 Nobel Prize laureates, hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations, major philanthropists, directors of the most effective nongovernmental organizations, and prominent members of the media. These CGI members have made nearly 2,000 commitments, which have already improved the lives of 300 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued in excess of $63 billion. The 2011 Annual Meeting will take place Sept. 19-22 in New York City. The CGI community also includes CGI U, which hosts an annual meeting for undergraduate and graduate students, and CGI Lead, which engages a select group of young CGI members for leadership development and collective commitment-making.More in: Small Business Growth