Kiva helping local entrepreneurs raise funds

Published: Jul. 31, 2013 at 1:44 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 1, 2013 at 12:41 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Local start-up businesses are about to start growing, $25 at a time. Kiva, the non-profit crowdfunding website, just expanded into Richmond.

Entrepreneurs Phil and Meghan Barbato need $5,000 to sell their stuffed creatures at the Comi-con convention.

"We're going to hire at least one person to build up our inventory for the year for Comi-con and help pay for our travel and lodging," said Phil Barbato.

They're raising the money through Kiva, the non-profit microlending website, where people invest as little as $25 to provide zero-interest loans for start-up companies.

Lacey Rollins is raising $5,000 for her Sole Citizens Functional Footwear, showing us the shoes' zippered pouches. "You can put items inside, movie tickets, keys, mints."

Matt Flannery co-founded Kiva ten years ago to fund entrepreneurs in Africa and Asia. Now its U.S. version, Kiva Zip, is moving into several U.S. Zip codes, including Washington, D.C. and Richmond.

"We depend on a network of trust. Local organizations, community organizations nominate an entrepreneur to be a borrower on Kiva, and then we have a million lenders all around the world," explained Flannery.

"Eighty-five percent of all the new jobs have come from start-up companies. Sometimes those start-ups are big companies like Google. Sometimes it's a local business that might be a restaurant or might be a new idea," said Senator Mark Warner, who along with Mayor Dwight Jones, invited Kiva to Richmond.

Capital One pledged $25,000 to help fund the local loans. Once a local entrepreneur raises half their needed capital, Capital One will fund the second half. When the loans are repaid, the Capital One funds will fund other local Kiva loans.

"Working with entrepreneurs in helping them start and grow their businesses is a natural for Capital One," said Daniel Delehanty with Capital One.

The idea is that this will help fund all different kinds of businesses that you could see anywhere in Greater Richmond.

Once the entrepreneurs repay their loans, which Flannery says usually happens within one to two years, they can sponsor other start-ups or apply for bigger loans to grow their ventures.

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