ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Kiva is a worldwide, non-profit organization that has partnered with the city of Rochester to help crowdfund local businesses.

Elizabeth Ingham, the Kiva Capitol Access Manager, said the organization focuses on empowering entrepreneurs with small business loans.

“Kiva has this online community,” Ingham said. “Basically, a couple of million lenders who go online regularly and lend small amounts to small businesses.”

Ingham said the amounts could be as small as $25.

“Which isn’t a lot for one person but when you have a couple million people lending, it adds up pretty quickly,” Ingham added.

The Kiva organization started out lending internationally, but after the 2008 recession, local business owners were in need of financing for their businesses. 

One business owner that has benefited from the loans is Rosa Marie, the president of Marvelous Mind Academy.

Marie said the loans she received have gone towards making their learning space neurodivergent friendly, with things like wallpaper for art, responsive wall lights that react to music, sound, and touch, and a working room for parents. Marie said the loans have been a huge help.

“It’s one thing to have vision, grit, and passion, but you can only go so far without money. As an entrepreneur, it is a struggle to get funding, especially as a start-up from a commercial lender, Marie said. “Kiva makes the process easy, they rely on your social impact, your social network to validate your credit worthiness.”

Because of her success, she encourages other start-up business owners to apply as well.

“We were able to receive a zero interest loan. like, that’s unheard of for start-ups, right? It’s just an amazing opportunity for people to get their dreams funded. I would encourage it one hundred percent. I’ve done it twice,” Marie said.

Kiva has been crowdfunding for nearly a decade here in Rochester and their success is on the rise.

“Since 2016, we’re at over 168 businesses funded and each of them are micro-loans. I think our average loan size is about $5,700. so in total if you add up all the loans lent to Rochester business we are about to hit one million dollars,” said Ingham.

Kiva Rochester will host a one million dollar celebration through their crowdfunding success. The event will be held at the International Plaza on August 8th from 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM.