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In 3 hours on web, Kiva Detroit gathers over $11,000 to lend to 5 startups

Within three hours of launching Wednesday, a web-based initiative to attract business loans of as little as $25 each brought in $11,450 for five local startups.
By Sherri Welch 

Within three hours of launching Wednesday, a web-based initiative to attract business loans of as little as $25 each brought in $11,450 for five local startups.

Michigan Corps, a nonprofit network of local and global Michiganders committed to positive change in their home state, joined with San Francisco-based, the Miami-based John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and New York-based microlender Accion USA to launch Kiva Detroit through Kiva launched six years ago in Uganda.

The effort brings to the U.S.'s mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty, with the Detroit launch marking the beginning of its expansion across the country.

The site enables metro Detroit residents and supporters to provide local startups loans of as little as $25.

The Knight Foundation has committed $250,000 to match individuals' loans made through the site to Detroit's small businesses, which gives the Kiva Detroit initiative the potential to bring in at least $500,000 for small businesses in the region. Accion, which provides microloans and financial education to low- and moderate-income individuals, is underwriting all Detroit microloans, analyzing loans for risk and administering approved loans in support of the Kiva Detroit initiative.

Within three hours of the site going live Wednesday, five local businesses had secured their target amounts through loans from individuals visiting the site and matching loans from the Knight Foundation, said Anuja Jaitly, co-founder and executive director of Michigan Corps, which helps identify local startups and small businesses that need capital.

"This partnership is really an opportunity for ... community leaders to champion small business, first by identifying (entrepreneurs) and then by lending to them," she said during a press conference this morning at Detroit's Eastern Market.

One of the businesses that secured a microloan through Kiva Detroit is Thrive Detroit Street Newspaper, which will be published with a goal of supporting Detroit's homeless community.

Founder Delphia Simmons, who runs a program to help the homeless at the Coalition on Temporary Shelter and those who are at risk of becoming homeless, secured a loan of more than $1,200, enabling her to print her first run of 5,000 newspapers.

Said Simmons: "I am grateful to Kiva Detroit for unlocking Detroit's greatest asset: our fellow citizens. Our community will thrive as we remain committed to one another's success."

Other local businesses that have received loans through Kiva Detroit are a bike shop run by young people in the Brightmoor neighborhood on Detroit's northwest side, a local fashion label, a personal assistant/concierge business and a vegan food cart.

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