Crowdfunded Loan Helps Entrepreneur Get Second Chance After Incarceration


Getting traditional bank funding can be tough for any small business. But it’s especially challenging for those who are re-entering the workforce after incarceration.

This was the case for Stephanie Blaco. After spending a decade in prison, she had trouble finding a traditional job. But in 2020, her father purchased an existing restaurant, The Mixing Bowl, in Kansas City, Missouri, which they ran together for a few years until he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. After walking away from the fixed location, Blaco decided to run a mobile catering service called Mixing Bowl on the Go, on her own.

But getting the necessary funding to purchase equipment and update her cart has been challenging. That is, until she found Kiva Kansas City, a crowdfunded microloan program run by nonprofit organization Kiva, the City of Kansas City, Missouri’s KC BizCare Office, and the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City.

Blaco was able to secure a $4,000 zero-percent interest loan from this program to upgrade her food cart. She plans to fix some issues that will help the cart meet local permitting regulations and take it to events throughout Kansas City.

She told Startland News, “It means a lot that they have some trust in me to be able to give me the chance to get some things done and show them that I can pay it back.”

Many businesses face barriers that make it tough to secure funding, whether it’s due to lack of collateral, pitching an unproven idea, or personal background issues. So, programs like Kiva’s can help many small businesses level the playing field and ultimately give their businesses a chance. For those with a solid idea and the necessary drive and skills to succeed, that access to additional money could be the initial push they need to get their ventures off the ground and prove themselves.

Though this exact program isn’t available in every community, it’s often worth looking into non-traditional funding sources or connecting with local nonprofits to learn more about potential options. It’s not always easy. But there are programs out there that are sometimes willing to take chances on businesses that don’t always qualify for traditional loans.

Image: Envato

Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.