Finding New Ways To Fund Small Business
Commitment by: Kiva.org
Commitment Partners: TechTown Detroit, Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, Access Ventures
Thousands of entrepreneurs get rejected for bank loans each day because of low cash flow and poor credit ratings. Through Kiva Zip, U.S. entrepreneurs and small business owners are able to secure zero-interest loans based on their character rather than their credit scores. Kiva Zip’s 2013 commitment enlisted 500 trustee partners to publicly vouch for businesses through the Kiva Zip website, encouraging the thousands of lenders on the site to crowdfund projects. Today, Kiva Zip has facilitated over 10,000 microloans, funded by over 50,000 lenders from around the world.
Baking A Business
Bakery Co-owner, Bumzy’s Cookies
I have been a cookie monster for as long as I can remember. I was 8 years old when my mother (Sheila Harris) taught me how to bake homemade chocolate chip cookies on Saturday afternoons. Mom would let me and my little brother take turns mixing the batter and then we’d lick the raw cookie dough off of the spoons.
We used our Kiva Zip loan to grow our mother-daughter bakery business, Bumzy’s Cookies, with a recipe handed down through three generations. Located in the heart of San Francisco, we specialize in making all natural homemade cookies, brownies, and ice cream — from scratch. It makes us smile when our customers walk in and see us preparing our products right before their eyes, with the aroma of baked cookies in the air. A person comes in as a serious adult and skips out as a happy child.
Feeding A Community
Restaurant Owner, L&G Sandwiches
In 1975, I was 13 years old when Cambodia’s civil war — along with the violent rule of the Khmer Rouge regime — drove my family from our home into the countryside. Four years later, we then fled to a refugee camp in Vietnam. In 1992, my husband’s sister sponsored our immigration to the U.S. Over the last 22 years, we have raised three beautiful children from our one-bedroom apartment in the Tenderloin region of San Francisco.
I have always loved to cook Vietnamese food and used my Kiva Zip loan to invest in our family restaurant, L&G Sandwiches, located across the street from our apartment. Small but homey, the restaurant can serve about 15 people at once. We plan for this space to become a true community center. I want to build it to be a hub in the Tenderloin that will make the neighborhood a better place for all of us.
Walking On Tires
Business Co-founder, Indosole
An idea was sparked when I found a unique pair of sandals in a local shop in Bali, Indonesia. From that moment, my business partner, Faye Middleton, and I began searching for a manufacturer to replicate and refine sandals made of natural materials, using motorbike tires as soles.
In 2010, Indosole was launched as a business based out of California, with manufacturing and office space in Bali. I used my Kiva Zip loan to manufacture additional inventory, with a goal of saving 1 million tires from landfills and giving them new life as footwear. Today, Indosole has salvaged over 8,000 tires and given jobs to more than 40 Balinese artists, selling more than 16,000 shoes and sandals. We hope to continue growing our business, and making a difference to both the environment and the artisans of Bali.
Farming with Family
Farmer, Groce Family Farm
My wife and I grew up hundreds of miles from each other as children of dedicated home gardeners. As adults, we each made our way to Louisville — where we found a home and each other. The garden and the kitchen became the context of our falling in love.
As we developed our passion for wholesome food, we started to grow vegetables on our small farm in 2010, with minimal inputs and no harmful chemicals. We used a Kiva Zip loan to buy a tractor and piglets to improve production and profit. We sell our produce to restaurants, farmers markets, and through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) service — where farmers select a box of weekly produce for members.
In these first four seasons we have learned so much about how to grow healthy crops, manage resources sustainably, find and keep customers, and run a business.