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Innovation & Job News

LEDC, Kiva, and Capital One work together to fund six small businesses

The Latino Economic Development Center, which has been funding start-up and existing businesses with microloans since 1997, got a big boost in January when the organization announced a partnership with the global microfinance website Kiva.

Ash Kosiewicz, communications and advocacy director for LEDC, calls the organization's nascent partnership with Kiva "a new tool in the toolbox."

"When it comes to lending programs, we want to be as sustainable as possible," Kosiewicz states. "We've always made small loans, in the $5,000 – $50,000 range. Small loans cost a lot of money to make. The partnership with Kiva City DC helps us strengthen our commitment to fund small loans while still being able to commit to long-term sustainability."

The initial partnership involved Kiva posting the profiles of six entrepreneurs, selected and vetted by LEDC, who were seeking "microloans" for starting or building a business. Kiva "crowdfunds" the loans--it collects funds for those loans from individual lenders who contribute $25 or more to the fund. When the entrepreneur pays back the loan, each lender is also repaid.

Within hours, several of the loans from LEDC had been fully funded, and two weeks later, all six borrowers had the funds they needed.

Though the six initial loans that appeared on KIVA's site are fully funded, Kosiewicz says that more borrower profiles will be coming soon. "It's an ongoing process, based on demand and interest." Capital One has committed to matching $150,000 of the funds raised for KIVA City DC entrepreneurs. DC-area businesses interested in applying for KIVA City DC loans should visit LEDC's website to check out LEDC's recently relaunched and rebranded Community Asset Fund for Entrepreneurs (CAFE) program.

LEDC was founded in 1991. The overall mission is to help people buy and stay in their homes, to keep rental homes affordable, and to help start and expand small businesses. According to Kosiewicz, LEDC began lending money in 1997, and just passed $5 million in capital distributed.

Read more articles by Allyson Jacob.

Allyson Jacob is a writer originally hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is the Innovation and Job News editor for Elevation DC. Her work has been featured in The Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati CityBeat. Have a tip about a small business or start-up making waves inside the Beltway? Tell her here.
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