NEW ORLEANS—August 28, 2011—ASI Federal Credit Union, a not-for-profit financial cooperative committed to strengthening the financial health of underserved communities, is launching a coalition of non-profits to unveil Kiva New Orleans, a first-of-its-kind program that enables locals in the community to support rebuilding the New Orleans economy by making microloans to local small businesses.

Launched with ASI Federal Credit Union, Good Work Network and Kiva.org, Kiva New Orleans represents Kiva's second locally organized initiative in the United States and the continuation of its nationwide "Kiva City" program. Kiva New Orleans allows the people of New Orleans and their supporters to lend as little as $25 to local, small businesses. New Orleans borrowers through this initiative can be found at Kiva.org/neworleans.

The Kiva New Orleans program is an innovative coalition among three leading non-profits:

  • Good Work Network educates, coaches and supports small business owners to help them improve their skills, realize their full potential and become active participants in the local economy. Good Work Network is leading the effort to recruit, prepare and support small businesses interested in receiving a microloan through Kiva New Orleans, as an extension of its business development services for its large network of small business owners.
  • ASI Federal Credit Union, a not-for-profit financial cooperative, will work with the small businesses referred by Good Work Network, underwrite these microloans, analyze loans for risk, and administer approved loans.

  • Kiva.org is featuring New Orleans-based borrowers on the Kiva.org website to allow the people of New Orleans and the broader Internet community to invest in and champion the success of New Orleans businesses, $25 at a time.

In addition, this coalition will be joined by three business partners:

  • Generation Louisiana, a local business development and public relations consulting firm, will work to engage the people of New Orleans interested in supporting these businesses with the goal of building lasting community, engagement, and leadership capacity among lenders, borrowers and other stakeholders in the business, civic, government and university communities.
  • KEEN, maker of hybrid footwear, bags and socks, will provide up to $77,000 out of its HybridLife Hope Fund to sponsor a matching fund where individuals' loans to Kiva New Orleans's small businesses are matched dollar-for-dollar on Kiva.org.
  • Entergy Corporation, an energy company engaged primarily in electric power generation and retail distribution operations, is a major media sponsor of the nonprofit collaborative that comprises Kiva New Orleans.  Entergy’s philanthropic mission is to help break the cycle of poverty by providing families and individuals with tools to help themselves achieve economic sustainability.

“We are very grateful to Generation Louisiana President Pamela Senatore, who reached out to Kiva two years ago to help assemble this exciting non-profit coalition which became Kiva New Orleans,” said Premal Shah, President of Kiva.org.  “Together with our financial and small business partners here in New Orleans like ASI Federal Credit Union and Good Work Network, we are all very excited to work together to help propel local businesses into the mainstream, and help create jobs."

“ASI Federal Credit Union has over 75,000 members, drawn to our mission to strengthen the financial health of underserved communities through financial services and education,” said Mignhon Tourne, CEO of ASI Federal Credit Union.  “Kiva New Orleans is an ideal platform through which we can work together with our partners to help our fellow small businesses and local communities.”

The Kiva City program was first announced on June 29, 2011, by President Bill Clinton on stage at the Clinton Global Initiative America conference in Chicago.  The new program extends Kiva's Internet-based lending model to underserved communities throughout the country—even where microfinance institutions have yet to establish local branches.

“Creating jobs, putting people back to work, and ensuring access to economic prosperity for all New Orleanians is my primary focus," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu.  "I am pleased that Kiva has chosen New Orleans to be a ‘Kiva City’ and partner with local organizations to get much needed capital on the street and to support local and disadvantaged businesses. Our recovery and our network of entrepreneurs will benefit greatly from this initiative.”

Kiva New Orleans brings this new Kiva City model to the city of New Orleans through the combined efforts of ASI Federal Credit Union, Good Work Network, and Kiva.org.  In addition, Kiva will continue to serve the Gulf Coast region through its traditional model of partnering with local microfinance institutions.  Kiva has been partnered with the microfinance institute ACCION Texas-Louisiana since October of 2010.

This initiative comes at an important time for small business owners in New Orleans. According to research commissioned by Kiva and Visa and conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, small businesses with less than nine employees are especially vulnerable in economic downturns. During challenging economic times, small businesses are more likely to close their doors, have a much more difficult time gaining access to capital, and take significantly longer to recover from losses. Yet, small businesses represent 75 percent of the companies operating in the U.S. today. Helping them grow and thrive is more important than ever.

It is in this environment of challenge that many citizens of New Orleans have come together to support local businesses: as mentors, investors, and customers; and within incubators, universities, and agencies. New Orleans is home to many exciting efforts to engage citizens on local economic issues. Kiva New Orleans aspires to complement the range of efforts already underway across the city.

One entrepreneur participating in the Kiva New Orleans microloan program is Danice Franklin, who founded the Creative Hands Day Care and Preschool Center in New Orleans. Her $10,000 microloan will enable her to purchase toys and equipment for the children she cares for and to support the expansion of her business. "What I love about Kiva New Orleans is that it's all about neighbors coming together.  And with the Internet, that neighbor may be someone living down the street from me or even across the country -- but together we can all work to make New Orleans a stronger community." 

Other Kiva New Orleans businesses include two construction companies, a skincare business, a gift shop/party supply store, a trucking agency, a solar energy business and an administrative support services business. Alongside its local partners, Kiva New Orleans' organizers hope to support and learn from community leaders across the city over the coming months and years.

"Good Work Network is proud to be a partner in Kiva New Orleans and our collaboration presents an outstanding opportunity for minority and women owned businesses in the city," said Phyllis Cassidy, Executive Director and Founder of Good Work Network. "This program has the potential to be a major force in creating a more diverse and inclusive economy in New Orleans - an ideal that is in the best interest of the entire business community."

New Orleans is the second in a series of forthcoming Kiva City initiatives to connect Kiva's global network of microlenders with more U.S. small business owners. The launch of Kiva New Orleans and the Kiva City Program was made possible by a generous grant from Visa, thanks to their encouragement to increase access to microfinance across the U.S.

About ASI Federal Credit Union

ASI Federal Credit Union was chartered in 1961 on the grounds of Avondale Shipyards and has grown to include over 75,000 members, making ASI the largest Louisiana-based credit union in terms of membership. ASI now offers fifteen branch locations in five parishes. ASI FCU has built a reputation of soundness, stability, and community stewardship, and has been recognized as an Opportunities Finance Network Wachovia NEXT semi-finalist, the CDFI Fund, the Annie Casey Foundation, the Woodstock Foundation, the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions and the Louisiana Credit Union League for its leadership and innovation in serving underserved communities.

About Good Work Network

Established as a 501(c) (3) in 2001, Good Work Network is the primary provider of business development services for the small community-based businesses that support families and sustain communities. Good Work Network educates, coaches and supports these smaller businesses to help them improve their skills, realize their full potential and become active participants in the local economy. Through its programs and services, Good Work Network works to expand the local economy by building minority and women owned businesses. It envisions a community where the economy is diverse and inclusive and where all dedicated and competent entrepreneurs have access to the resources they need to succeed.

About Kiva.org

Kiva.org is the world's first personal microlending website, empowering individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. Founded in 2005, Kiva.org's mission is to connect people, through lending, to alleviate poverty. Over 619,000 people have loaned more than $237 million to 611,000 entrepreneurs in 60 countries. Kiva.org is headquartered in San Francisco.

About Generation Louisiana

Generation Louisiana is a New Orleans-based business development and public relations consulting firm specializing in strategic public relations planning for proven results in the realm of economic development.

About KEEN

KEEN Inc., based in Portland, Oregon is a manufacturer of hybrid footwear, socks and bags, and an outdoor brand that delivers innovative hybrid products, enabling outdoor enthusiasts to live an active lifestyle. The company strives to demonstrate integrity and leadership, especially on social and environmental commitments, while promoting a vibrant, inclusive community that attracts all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts. To learn more, visit www.KEENfootwear.com.

In May 2011, KEEN, maker of hybrid footwear, bags and socks, contributed $5 for every shoe sold on KEENfootwear.com to its HybridLife Hope Fund to support loans to Kiva entrepreneurs. Now KEEN is using that HybridLife Hope Fund to match loans to borrowers in New Orleans and around the U.S.

About Entergy

Entergy Corporation is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, and it is the second-largest nuclear generator in the United States. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.7 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of more than $11 billion and approximately 15,000 employees.

 

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