Kiva small business loans

LaQuicha Brown was able to open a second location to sell her handmade chocolate-covered strawberries thanks to a $10,000, interest-free loan through Kiva City Baltimore.

The nonprofit Kiva has facilitated loans for more than 2 million entrepreneurs around the world via its online crowdsourcing platform.

BLocal partner T. Rowe Price invested $215,000 to bring Kiva to Baltimore in fall 2016 because it recognizes that the odds are tough for minority small-business owners seeking loans.

So far, Kiva City Baltimore has facilitated $89,500 in loans to 12 borrowers, who received funding from 1,259 individual lenders around the world. Sixty-one percent of those borrowers were women, and 69 percent were African-American.

While the banking industry classifies these as microloans, it’s the kind of lending that is huge to small business owners like Brown, who opened a second shop, in Federal Hill, in February 2017. Her original location opened in 2014 at the Best Western Plus Hotel and Conference Center on O’Donnell Street.

Brown works long hours and most weekends, and she said her Kiva loan has made her life easier.

“It really helps you as a business owner—paying back an interest-free loan is all you can ask for,” Brown said. “Everyone ends up helping each other.”