Access interest-free loans for your small business through Kiva Zip


In late March, Kiva Zip officially launched in Pittsburgh.

With the support of local organizations, foundations, and individuals, Kiva Zip is providing a new channel for small businesses to receive 0% interest capital.

The San Francisco based non-profit takes an innovative approach to resolving a disturbing issue: that 8,000 small businesses are denied a loan every day in the U.S.  Through Kiva Zip, 0% interest, crowd funded microloans are available to new and existing entrepreneurs based on their character rather than their credit score.

If you own a small business or are getting ready to start your own small business, Kiva Zip can help you access capital.

A kiva zip business owner

To date, 11 women-owned businesses have received a Kiva Zip loan in the Pittsburgh area, including:

  • Tracy Carter, owner of Shear Delight Beauty Salon in the Hill District, who received a $5,000 in June 2013 to open her salon at 2203 Centre Avenue.
  • Maria Graziani, who received a $5,000 in November 2012 for Healcrest Farms, repaid it on time, and last month received a second loan of $10,000 for her line of frozen tea pops made from produce grown on her urban farm.
  • Amy Weiland of Constellation Coffee, who received a $5,000 to open her coffee shop at 4059 Penn Avenue.

One of the most compelling features of Kiva Zip’s model is that an individual’s credit-worthiness is based on their character rather than their credit score.

Kiva Zip uses a borrower’s personal connections within their community as collateral, rather than using their personal assets.

Currently, two women-owned Pittsburgh businesses are fundraising for their loans on Kiva Zip. You can help support these local entrepreneurs by lending as little as $5:

  • Denise Mahan operates Happy Tailz Spa for dogs and cats. A loan of $5,000 would buy the equipment to be able to treat pets with various skin and hair problems. Lend as little as $5 to Denise here.
  • Artice Coleman is fundraising to self-publish her second book, which is a children’s book that features a spiritual, uplifting message. Lend as little as $5 to Artice here.

One of purposes of the launch event on March 28th was to highlight local businesses, provide understanding of the program, and encourage participation – as borrowers, trustees, and lenders. We would love to see the Propelle network participate and benefit from Kiva Zip. Here are a few ways to get involved:

  • Sign up as a Trustee, where your public endorsement of a borrower serves as a form of collateral. Kiva Zip values the personal and professional relationships that organizations and individuals have with their borrowers. Trustees bear no legal or financial responsibility for the loans they endorse.
  • Seek out a loan as a Borrower for your business. The loans are 0% interest with no fees attached. The largest first-time loan is $5,000 and repayments can be scheduled between 1-2 years.
  • Support local entrepreneurs as a Lender.  You can loan as little as $5 to Pittsburgh entrepreneurs here. Currently, PNC Foundation is generously matching all loan amounts. Lend local, buy local, and support Pittsburgh’s small business economy!

For more information, contact:

Susan Nielsen e: p: (805)886-2649

Emily Keebler e: p: (412)606-2116