Kiva making a difference for small businesses in Oklahoma
In January, Progress OKC launched the Kiva lending program in Oklahoma. It’s a low-barrier micro-lending program for entrepreneurs and startups that typically have difficulty accessing capital. Traditional lenders such as banks may require credit history, collateral, citizenship and financial performance verification that can create barriers for startups, especially for women and minorities.
The Oklahoma City program is hitting its goals and has already fully funded 10 local businesses with more than $50,000 in total loans. Most of those were funded in less than two weeks and our record is full funding for a startup in less than 24 hours. Kiva lenders are individuals willing to loan as little as $25 to help an entrepreneur with a great idea.
Some 102 lenders rushed in with $25 and $50 loans to raise $4,500 in under two weeks for Beehive Birth Consulting of Midwest City. The business provides maternal health services for Black and Indigenous women and families in underserved childbearing communities. The loan is funding the salaries for new personnel to support the growing demand for services.
The largest Kiva Oklahoma loan to date was for FlasHOLR, an Oklahoma-based transportation technology company. The app connects people who need hauling with drivers who own cargo vehicles. The business started in April of 2020 and kicked off its Kiva lending program in early 2021 to recruit more truck drivers and add trucks. The $15,000 request was fully funded within two weeks.
There are many other success stories – fully funded requests for businesses in food and grocery, cosmetology, employment services for people with disabilities, recycling and more in need of an average $6,000 to take their enterprise to the next level. The platform provides great international exposure since companies including DoorDash, Google and Facebook scan Kiva for philanthropic opportunities.
We are actively spreading the word to other small businesses and startups in Oklahoma. Our goal is to fund at least 25 businesses with a total loan volume of $100,000 or more in 0% interest loans by year-end.
Progress OKC was selected as the Kiva Hub in response to the havoc COVID-19 brought to our small business community. The Oklahoma City Economic Development Trust, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and Inasmuch Foundation were the initial investors for this small business recovery tool.