Micro-lender Kiva Zip off to a fast start in Milwaukee

By Rick Romell, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Kiva ZipKiva Zip, the no-interest, micro loan program that channels capital to credit-challenged entrepreneurs, is off to a fast start in Milwaukee.

Seven small businesses have gotten loans already and another 18 are in the midst of fundraising through Kiva, which promises to open a new source of money for ventures that probably couldn’t tap conventional outlets.

Abbey Manalli and Adam Herbage had figured it would take a least a month on Kiva’s website to raise the $5,000 they needed so they can expand their year-old business, Milwaukee Candle and Apothecary.

But just 48 hours after their pitch went live, they had the money, cobbled together from small pledges from more than 40 people, some of them friends but most strangers from as far away as Philadelphia, Los Angeles and South Korea. That was a total surprise.

“We expected at least a 30-day slog of pestering people,” Herbage said.

The couple spoke after an event at City Hall scheduled to mark the official launch here of Kiva, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that also operates in 10 other U.S. cities, and abroad.

“It’s a first step for a business climbing a success ladder,” said Mayor Tom Barrett, who, along with Wendy Baumann, president of the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp., worked to bring Kiva here.

The program helps “people who have a plan and have a passion but simply lack the capital they need,” Baumann said. Read more …

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