An Overview of the Kiva Loan Process at Centro

Kiva loan description

Kiva US is an online crowdfunding platform that provides entrepreneurs with 0% interest loans of up to $10,000. To qualify for a loan, applicants must be over 18 years old, not currently in bankruptcy, have a business located in the US, and the loan must be used for business purposes.

Through Centro’s partnership with Kiva US, we can endorse entrepreneurs who have completed the Centro Business Planning, and for entrepreneurs who have completed our Advanced Entrepreneurship Program, we can endorse them with Centro Community Partners’ Kiva Trustee account, which we can use to promote their crowdfunding campaign to our community of supporters.

Applying for a Kiva Loan

For workshop participants: If you have completed one of Centro’s training programs, we are happy to help you do this. The first thing you should do is send us an email at KivaUS@centrocommunity.org, letting us know that you want to apply for a Kiva loan, so we can talk with you about the process and Centro’s expectations, as well as answer any questions or concerns you have.

For entrepreneurs who completed the Centro Business Planning App: If you have completed the Centro Business Planning App, just click “Apply for a Loan” at the bottom of the Home Screen of the app, and follow the prompts to eventually send an email to KivaUS@centrocommunity.org We will follow up with a special link to start your application process.

The first step to applying for a Kiva loan is to create a Kiva Profile. We have created a Google Doc Kiva Profile template which you use to help craft your profile. You can use this document to collaboratively prepare the answers for your Kiva profile. Please feel free to share the template with your business advisors or coaches, or download it to your computer.

Once you have completed your Kiva Profile, but before submitting, please let us know so that we can post an endorsement describing our experience working with you and why we are supporting you.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind while creating your Kiva Profile:

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  1. Take an amazing picture. Having a great picture of you at (or showing) your business is very important for getting people to contribute to your crowdfunding campaign.

  2. Make sure your answers are well written. Your profile needs to look professional, so be sure to fix any spelling, grammar and punctuation errors, and use clear language that’s easy to understand. Consider asking another person to proofread your answers.

  3. Use the money from your loan to increase your capacity. Kiva lenders tend to prefer to support entrepreneurs who are using the money to grow their business by purchasing new equipment and inventory, making a website, training employees, or specific costs associated with starting or growing your business. They tend to be less interested in supporting people who want to use the loan to pay their own salary, pay off other debts, or general marketing purposes.

After you have submitted your Kiva Profile, Kiva will review your application and contact you if they have any questions. The amount that you are approved for is determined by Kiva’s team. Once approved, you will be invited to start the Private Fundraising Period.

Private Funding Period (PFP)

After you have applied for a Kiva US loan, you will enter Private Funding Period (PFP), during which you will need to have a minimum number of people to lend least $25 to your campaign within 15 days (the number of lenders required to complete the PFP is determined by Kiva, but is usually no more than 25). Kiva recommends trying to raise about 30% of your loan during the PFP.

This offline communication and preparation is invaluable to helping you quickly get through the PFP.

Preparing for PFP: To successfully complete the PFP, it is important to prepare. Make a list of the people in your community you will reach out to, tell them you are applying for the loan and ask if you can count on them to put up (at least) $25. Then, prepare the messages you’ll send out, so that the second you your loan goes live, you can send them all notes (email, text, Facebook). Consider letting them know that you’ll be asking for their support before the PFP starts so that they are ready to support you as soon as you are approved to start fundraising.

Crowdfunding

Once you have completed the PFP, your loan will go live on the Kiva US website, and anyone can lend to it. That being said, there is still a lot of work to do (Just because it is 0% interest, doesn’t mean it’s free).

It is important that you have a strategy to actively promote your crowdfunding campaign and that you execute it! Be sure to mention it on social media and other online channels that you use, tell your customers and other supporters about it, and provide regular updates to keep people excited and engaged.

If you are a graduate of one of our programs and Centro is endorsing your loan, let us know when it enters live fundraising, and we will share with our community and provide support to help you keep the momentum up.

Post Fundraising

Once you’ve raised the money for your loan, it will be deposited in your Paypal account. After that there are a few important things you will need to do.

  1. Make your monthly payments on time! This is important for you and Centro. If you don’t pay back your loan, you will be letting down the people who supported you, which could have negative consequences for you and your business. It also hurts Centro’s credibility as a trustee, making it harder for other graduates of our programs to get loans. There’s an option to set up automatic monthly repayments, so you can have one less thing to pay attention to while you are managing your business.

  2. Send out thank you messages to the people who lent you money and provide regular updates on how you are using the money to help your business. This will help a lot if you decide to get another Kiva US loan by keeping your supporters engaged.

Centro Disclaimer

While we are happy to help you apply for your Kiva US loan and promote your crowdfunding campaign, we need to be clear that getting a Kiva US loan is hard work, and your success in fundraising to access Kiva’s 0% loans and added brand awareness depends on you!