Steven McAlpin , founder of Canes for Courage and Kiva Zip borrower, jumped on stage as Josh from United Virginia  was giving his speech, and gave Senator Warner one of his hand carved customized walking sticks with the words “Kiva Virginia” and “Senator Warner” engraved. This was one of many exciting moments that occurred at the Kiva City Richmond launch that took place Monday July 29th. Richmond happily became the 7th Kiva City in the U.S., joining other cities such as Portland, Newark, and D.C. and the community could not be more excited. Political leaders, community organizations, and small business owners, all came together under one roof to celebrate the establishment of this program in their state. For me, this day was truly special, as I was able to see the tangible results of my efforts and the hard work that I put into ensuring the program reached as many like-minded organizations and helped as many entrepreneurs in need.
By the launch, a total of 15 different incredible and brave entrepreneurs from Richmond and other parts of Virginia, had been endorsed by 10 different organizations, and were posted on the site to begin fundraising. Of those, five were given tables to showcase their business, a few were highlighted through media efforts, and one, Allyson with Runway Wheels, spoke along side the other keynote speakers.
It was so inspiring to see the borrowers engaging with the crowd, swapping business cards, and advocating for their businesses. They all constantly expressed their gratitude, joy, and excitement for being able to be a part of an organization that was truly helping them realize their dreams, and for getting the opportunity to participate in this event that allowed them to get the recognition they deserve and bring publicity and exposure to their businesses. Most of these businesses have been in operation for less than two years, and four of them were completely new start ups, as many of us know, these individuals are not the most favorable candidates for a traditional micro loan and without this Kiva Zip loan, they perhaps wouldn’t have been able to expand or start their business. In Richmond specifically, there’s currently no Microfinance institution serving the needs of entrepreneurs looking for just a small chunk of capital, a problem that has been brought to my attention over and over again. Kiva Zip is here to fill that gap, and hopefully with this launch, many other small business owners in the area will be given the opportunity they so deserve to live out their dreams.
As Senator Warner said “Kiva is building on its proven track record in microfinance by launching this program which will support entrepreneurship, create local jobs, and continue the revitalization of our community.” This demonstrates just how impactful Kiva Zip can and has been throughout different cities in the U.S. and I’m hopeful and excited about the future of the program and its continued growth and expansion. In a short 3 days, 4 loans have already been fully funded and others are right on track to being funded, if you’d like to help these entrepreneurs reach their funding goals, please consider making a loan here .