The good news is the batch freezer used by Weckerly’s Ice Cream is struggling to keep up with demand. That’s also the bad news.
“It is something we outgrew about a year ago. We run it all day every day, and it makes about a gallon at a time,” said Andy Satinsky, who started the French-style ice cream company in 2013 with his wife Jen, a former pastry chef.
A new, larger ice cream machine runs $25,000, but banks aren’t exactly lining up to make small loans to small businesses, even those that are growing.
Satinsky, instead, turned to Kiva Zip Philadelphia, a local offshoot of the international crowdsourced lending program, which is marking its first anniversary. The business secured an interest-free $5,000 loan that he is coupling together with other grants and loans to purchase the new machine.
“I feel a great deal of responsibility to pay it back, and a great deal of gratitude,” he said.
Weckerly’s is one of 70 local businesses to receive a loan in Kiva Philadelphia’s first 12 months. Entrepreneurs are first vetted by local partnering groups, who then provide business and technical training for the startups.
The money comes from members of the public, who can make contributions for as little as $25.
“We are bringing the community together — lenders, borrowers and partner organizations throughout the city — who want to support small businesses,” said Alyssa Thomas, Kiva Philadelphia’s program manager.
The program targets traditionally underserved entrepreneurs, with minority-led businesses making up nearly 60 percent of total recipients. The enterprises range from ice cream and other artisanal food products to jewelry, clothing and craft.
“They are shocked and awed that people who didn’t know them would lend to them, versus being a bank,” said Thomas. “That’s not necessarily someone they care about as much as the people who believed in them.”
Kiva Philadelphia reports a 93.1 percent loan repayment rate, slightly above the program average across the country.
The organization is celebrating its anniversary on December 4th with a holiday marketplace at the Philadelphia Center For Architecture.