An international crowd-funding group is lending money to 14 Philadelphia businesses.
The zero-interest loans are designed to help small outfits get their start or expand.
“Pedro used to have two cows to help him plow a field, one of the cows died of old age.”
That’s not a math problem from an old textbook; it’s the audio from Kiva.org’s video about microloans to small businesses.
Kiva, which has worked primarily in other countries, is moving into several U.S. cities including Philadelphia.
Philadelphian Art Verbrugghe, who is nearly 60, said it isn’t easy starting a business. But he’s using his Kiva loan to help his clothing operation and take on an apprentice.
“Not everybody can work in a high-tech job. There aren’t enough high-tech jobs to support everybody that needs a job,” he said. “And we need to make employment opportunities available to everyone. A large, varied, diverse employment landscape is absolutely necessary to any metropolitan region.”
Carl Lewis of the 48th Street Grill used a $5,000 Kiva loan to buy a showcase for his baked goods. The funding was one of several small business loans he’s been able to secure.
Kiva president Premal Shah says on average it takes more than 100 people to crowdfund one of the Philly loans, said Kiva President Premal Shah.
That works out to “1,700 people all across the world,” he said. “It’s going to be a huge multiplier effect as it starts to grow.”
When the loans are paid off, lenders have the option to put it to work in a new venture.