FORGE Community Loan Fund and Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation have announced a joint partnership with Kiva US to establish Kiva Little Rock, an entrepreneurial startup hub that aims to help underserved entrepreneurs and small business owners in Central Arkansas gain access to capital. Through the support of the Hub, small businesses can access zero percent interest, crowdfunded capital ranging from $1,000-$15,000.
The Little Rock Kiva Hub is led by Capital Access Manager Itzel Velazquez. Velazquez is also the Little Rock Business Consultant for Conexion de Negocios Latinos (Latinx Business Connections) where she provides support to Latinx business owners. Her professional background includes several nonprofits in Arkansas, where she focused on educational equity and immigrants’ rights advocacy.
“Through Kiva Little Rock, businesses may obtain crowd-sourced loans. Kiva microloans are helpful for entrepreneurs who face barriers to accessing traditional means of capital,” Velazquez explained. “Community-minded funders can invest in small businesses and local start-ups knowing that their contributions will help build the regional economy. By lending on the Kiva platform, you are letting these local entrepreneurs know that you believe in them and want them to succeed.”
The public is invited to mark the celebration of Kiva Little Rock at the launch event on Wednesday, May 25, from 2 to 3 p.m. at Sidney S. McMath Library, 2100 John Barrow Road in Little Rock. Speakers include Itzel Velazquez, the Capital Access manager for the Kiva Hub; Sandra Carrasco Quezada, director of Latinx Business Development, FORGE; and Mike Ramirez, bilingual banker, entrepreneur and board member of Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.
Kiva is an international nonprofit based in San Francisco that offers crowdfunded loans and works to unlock capital for the underserved, improving the quality and cost of financial services, and addressing the underlying barriers to financial access around the world. Loans granted through Kiva are made up of five to 20 initial loan contributions of as little as $25 before launching on a national scale, where a borrower can access up to $15,000 at zero percent interest with no fees. The Little Rock Kiva Hub will serve as support for borrowers and provide technical assistance to borrowers and small business owners.
Pictured: Itzel Velazquez, Kiva