Startup Junkie, in partnership with the Walton Family Foundation, will work with Kiva US to launch a micro-loan program called Kiva Northwest Arkansas aiming to help underserved entrepreneurs and small-business owners get access to capital.
Kiva is an international nonprofit based in San Francisco. Through Kiva Northwest Arkansas, community members can sign up to lend money to local entrepreneurs. Individual contributions can be as little as $25. Borrowers can access up to $10,000 with no interest and no fees.
In addition, the process requires no credit score, collateral pledges or U.S. citizenship documentation.
For those in Benton and Washington counties, the Kiva-approved loan will be eligible for Walton Family Foundation matching loan funds as well. The foundation has provided $100,000 in matching funds to Kiva.
Startup Junkie will provide technical assistance to borrowers, including help with the application process. The repayment rate for Kiva loans is about 97%.
"Our entire community will have the opportunity to support the growth of new businesses that would not otherwise exist and put them on the path to success or lift up our existing businesses," Startup Junkie Executive Consultant Martha Londagin said in a news release. "These small community loan pledges take the place of traditional credit score requirements and personal or business collateral pledges. With Kiva, the borrower's community vouches for them as being worthy of the Kiva loan program."
"From Kiva, I believe that a model where a local organization works with Kiva and is funded by a local foundation sets a great precedent for other cities to follow," said Sarah Adeel, Kiva regional manager for the west and south-central United States. "It is the most innovative way for cities to offer financial inclusion to their small businesses, especially those rejected by other financial institutions. It will help scale the impact through multiple stakeholders focused on solving a problem together, as well as building a local lending community."