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Kiva Oakland Is Launching To Help The Small, Local Businesses That Make Oakland Special

We are thrilled to announce the launch of Kiva Oakland, which will provide 0% interest crowdfunded loans to hundreds of Oakland small business owners in collaboration with Mayor Libby Schaaf.

Kiva Oakland helps businesses that are both socially and financially significant yet are unable to obtain traditional financing.

“This project is a virtuous circle of opportunity for Oakland,” Schaaf explained, “where the return on investment is determined more by character than credit scores.” “We’re offering Oakland citizens a key method to directly support the small businesses that are the backbone and creative engine of our local economy, and in turn, Oakland entrepreneurs receive access to the financing they need to thrive,” says the mayor.

Visit Kiva.org/Oakland to browse through inspiring company owner profiles and choose one you connect with to help small businesses thrive in Oakland. Contribute $25 or more to a borrower’s whole loan request; once it reaches 100%, it is considered crowdfunded. When lenders are paid back, they can either re-lend the money to someone else through Kiva.org/Oakland or withdraw it and put it in their own pocket.

Oakland’s economy relies heavily on small enterprises. According to Oakland’s Department of Economic & Workforce Development, which runs the city’s Business Assistance Center, 90 percent of Oakland businesses have 20 or less employees. According to the Small Business Administration, small firms create two-thirds of all new jobs in the United States.

Kiva Oakland is a significant and exciting expansion of our work in the Bay Area, where we call home. We started Kiva San Francisco last October, and Oakland was the first city in the US to collaborate with Kiva Zip as a Trustee to vouch for small business owners on Kiva’s platform in 2013. Kiva Oakland is a key finance source for financially excluded small enterprises in the area, with an initial $500,000 investment from the San Francisco Foundation and another $500,000 from Google.org.

Hundreds of local entrepreneurs, including businesses owned by immigrants, neighborhood shops fighting to stay in their community, and enterprises formed to hire at-risk children or support local food ecosystems, are already connected to thousands of lenders through Kiva in the Bay Area.

“The tiny enterprises of Oakland are the beating heart of the city.” “They bring color and life to the communities, provide good jobs, and enrich the cultural fabric of this city,” stated Premal Shah, Kiva’s President. “They have the drive and the strategy, but they typically lack the necessary funds to get started or expand.” We can all contribute to their achievement through Kiva Oakland.”

Kiva Oakland is unusual in that it bridges a key lending gap for entrepreneurs whose enterprises are too new, small, or inventive to qualify for typical small business loans.

Traditional lenders turn down 80% of small business loan applications, and Hispanic and African American entrepreneurs are denied loans up to three times more frequently than their Caucasian counterparts.

A borrower’s creditworthiness on Kiva is determined by their network, not their FICO score. This social underwriting technique is based on their ability to raise funds from friends and family to cover a portion of their loan, proving that they have gained the trust of those closest to them.

Kiva Oakland is a collaboration between the city of Oakland and over three dozen local charities. The San Francisco Foundation, Google.org, PG&E, Capital One, OBDC, Akonadi Foundation, Wells Fargo, the California Endowment, the Miller Family Foundation, and the Walter and Elise Haas Fund all contribute grants and matching funds to Kiva Oakland.