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access to capital -- kiva zip

Justin Renfro
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Full disclosure -- I work for the non-profit Kiva, and this post is meant to provide information about our program, which has helped over 300 farmers across the US (and thousands around the world) access capital to start or grow their farm.

One of the biggest problems facing farmers across the country today is access to affordable capital. I've worked with a lot of farmers, and the #1 thing they talk about is land -- we can't help with that.....BUT we can help to raise smaller amounts of capital for projects or equipment -- irrigation, composting, fencing, greenhouses/hoop houses, purchasing livestock or seeds, equipment (tractors, trucks, or tools), hiring part time help.

One of our farmers used $5,000 to purchase egg cartons in bulk, another used $10,000 to repair her greenhouse and fencing, another used it to buy a salad spinner -- again -- smaller projects or purchases that can make a big impact.

Kiva Zip is a crowd funding site -- but it's different -- in that our success rate is 98% and farmers fully fund in 3 weeks on average. The reason for this is that it's a crowd funded loan -- so the money lent on our site is consistently repaid and recycled. So the vast majority of the money flowing through our site comes from the 1.3 million lenders around the world that are already on Kiva, re-lending their money to more and more entrepreneurs over time. This allows our entrepreneurs to be connected with a global audience of strangers that are looking to invest their money in something good -- farmers are the fastest funding category on our website, implying that our lenders are looking to invest in small, local food economies -- in the US and around the world.

Kiva Zip makes loans -- and we have criteria to qualify. Most lenders will ask for business plans or cash flows or collateral or credit scores. We don't do any of that. The way we determine whether someone is "credit worthy" is through their reputation. To qualify, you need to invite 20 people from your own community to lend you at least $5. That is our criteria for qualification -- valuing your reputation (which you'll have to prove, by showing your community of support) over your credit score or bank statements.

We offer....

$10,000 max loan
up to 6 months grace period for farmers
0% interest

Average of 3 weeks to get fully funded
98% success rate for farmers to get full funded

here are a few articles and resources that give more context around the program:
local harvest -- http://www.localharvest.org/newsletter/20140529/
fresh farm markets -- http://freshfarmmarkets.org/wp/sustainable-investment-with-a-local-twist/
CCOF -- http://www.ccof.org/blog/how-kiva-zip-loan-can-help-small-farms
kiva zip farmer page - http://www.borrowers.kivazip.org/#!agriculture/ce9l --

feel free to email me if you have questions, justin@kiva.org
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