Oakland’s city council is set to vote on an idea that could help small businesses get off the ground.
It’s a proposal to partner with Kiva.org, a non-profit micro-lending organization based in San Francisco.
For years now, people have been using Kiva to make small loans that fund start-up businesses around the world. So far, it has raised more than $400 million to fund entrepreneurs in 67 countries.
That’s all because some 930,000 lenders have given as little as $25 to the non-profit organization. Oakland may become the first city in the country to become a formal trustee in their network.
“That means we get to endorse three companies to receive loans of up to $10,000 and it becomes a revolving loan,” Oakland City Councilmember Libby Schaaf said. “Once one of those loans is repaid we can then designate a new company to benefit from Kiva’s services.”
Mandela foods is a small business that benefited from a kiva loan before oakland made a proposal to become a trustee.
The local grocery store in west Oakland opened up four years ago.
“We wanted to open this grocery store up because people in this area need food,” James Berk said. Berk and his partners applied and got a $5,000 Kiva loan. They used the money for advertising. They say it will be paid off soon.
”I’ve spoken to a lot of people in Oakland and there seems to be a real sense of community and a strong sense of identity I’m from Oakland,” Jonny Price, Senior Director of Kiva Zip said. “What we’re trying to do here at kiva zip is about building that community.”