Coalition Supporting New "Kiva Detroit" Initiative Is First Major Community Effort to Bring More Than $500,000 in Microloans to Detroit Small Businesses; Includes ACCION USA, Knight Foundation, Michigan Corps and Kiva.org


DETROIT, MI--(Marketwire - Jun 30, 2011) - Michigan Corps, a network of local and global Michiganders committed to positive change in their home state, has created a coalition of non-profits to launch "Kiva Detroit," a first-of-its-kind program that enables locals in the community to support rebuilding the Detroit economy by making microloans to local small businesses.

Launched with microlender ACCION USA, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and Kiva.org, Kiva Detroit represents Kiva's first locally organized initiative in the United States and the beginning of its nationwide "Kiva City" program. Kiva Detroit allows Detroiters and supporters of Detroit to lend as little $25 to local, small businesses with loan impact doubled through a 1:1 match supported by $250,000 in funds from the Knight Foundation.

The Kiva Detroit program is an innovative coalition among four leading non-profit organizations:

  • Michigan Corps is leading a "Kiva Detroit Working Group" comprised of a cross-section of Detroiters. This working group recruits small businesses interested in Kiva microloans, engages Detroiters interested in supporting these businesses, and builds lasting community, engagement, and leadership capacity among lenders, borrowers, and other stakeholders.
  • Knight Foundation, which promotes informed and engaged communities nationwide, is providing $250,000 to sponsor a matching fund where individuals' loans to Kiva Detroit's small businesses are matched dollar-for-dollar on Kiva.org. This partnership between Knight and Kiva doubles the initial capital available for microloans through Kiva and encourages Detroiters to engage in their community as lenders to small businesses.
  • ACCION USA, a leading U.S.-based microfinance institution and member of the ACCION Network in the U.S., is working with all Detroit small business borrowers via its online loan application, underwrites all Detroit microloans, analyzes loans for risk, supports the Kiva Detroit Working Group, and administers approved loans.
  • Kiva.org is featuring Detroit borrowers on the Kiva website to allow Detroiters and the broader Internet community to invest in and champion the success of Detroit businesses, $25 at a time.

"Michigan Corps leads a growing community of Michiganders actively engaged in our state's future," said Anuja Jaitly, co-founder and Executive Director of Michigan Corps. "Kiva Detroit has already engaged scores of Detroiters as we have together created this platform for citizens and small businesses. I look forward to engaging many hundreds of Detroiters in the success of Kiva Detroit."

This initiative comes as an important time for small business owners in Detroit. 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. And 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 Detroiters have come together to support local businesses: as mentors, investors, and customers; and within incubators, universities, and agencies. Detroit is home to many exciting efforts to engage citizens on local economic issues. Kiva Detroit aspires to complement the range of efforts already underway across the city.

"Local outreach and institutional partnerships are the twin pillars of the Kiva City program in Detroit," said Paul Quintero, CEO of ACCION USA. "Thanks to the grassroots outreach of Michigan Corps and the committed loan funds provided by Kiva, we are helping finance the dreams of many Detroit entrepreneurs today and looking to replicate this outreach and partnership model across America."

One entrepreneur participating in the Kiva Detroit microloan program is Delphia Simmons, founder of "Thrive Detroit Street Newspaper," a local newspaper whose goal is to support Detroit's homeless community. Her $1,000 microloan will enable her to print her first run of 5,000 newspapers. "I am grateful to Kiva Detroit for unlocking Detroit's greatest asset: our fellow citizens," said Delphia. "Our community will thrive as we remain committed to one another's success."

Other Kiva Detroit businesses include a bike shop and an organic fashion label. Alongside its local partners, Kiva Detroit's organizers hope to support and learn from community leaders across the city over the coming months and years.

"Detroit is an inspiring community of natural leaders," said Rishi Jaitly, Program Director, Detroit, for Knight Foundation. "Kiva Detroit and its platform connecting citizens to one another and to small businesses is a powerful example of how Knight promotes an informed and engaged Detroit: that is, by giving Detroiters themselves easy opportunities to flourish as leaders in their own community."

To learn more about and participate in this new Kiva Detroit program, visit kiva.org/detroit.

Detroit is the first in a series of forthcoming Kiva City initiatives to connect Kiva's global network of microlenders with more U.S. small business owners. The Kiva City program was made possible through initial funding from Visa and a partnership with ACCION USA.

About Michigan Corps

Michigan Corps is a social network of local and global Michiganders committed to change in our home state. Founded in Detroit in 2010, Michigan Corps builds community among Michiganders everywhere (i.e. "Corps Members") while also launching innovative education and entrepreneurship projects across the state.

Anuja Jaitly, co-founder and Executive Director of Michigan Corps, has been with Michigan Corps since its founding in March of 2010.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote informed and engaged communities and lead to transformational change. In Detroit, Knight Foundation informs and engages by creating an environment where all Detroiters can act, inspire, and be recognized as community leaders.

Rishi Jaitly, Program Director, Detroit, for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, joined the Knight Foundation in 2011. Rishi co-founded Michigan Corps along with his wife Anuja; Rishi was then hired by Knight Foundation after they decided to move forward with Kiva Detroit.

About ACCION USA

ACCION USA, a member of the ACCION Network in the U.S. is a leading U.S. microfinance organization that provides access to capital and financial education to low- and moderate-income individuals, primarily minorities and women. A pioneer and recognized leader in U.S. microfinance, ACCION USA empowers individuals to create sustainable businesses, increase family incomes, and contribute to the economic development of cities across the U.S. Since inception in 1991, ACCION USA has provided over $124 million in small business loans ranging from $500 to $50,000, offered in 46 states via the ACCION USA online lending platform. For more information about small business loans, visit www.accionusa.org.

Paul Quintero is President and CEO of ACCION USA.

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 595,000 people have loaned more than $223 million to 577,000 entrepreneurs in 59 countries. Kiva.org is headquartered in San Francisco.

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