O’Connor: New program provides critical capital for small businesses

Published Wednesday, December 9, 2020
by Cathy O'Connor

One of the biggest obstacles for entrepreneurs and startups is finding access to capital. Young or small companies can go bust if the founders can’t find funding for equipment, supplies or workers needed to generate revenue. Finding traditional capital can be especially difficult for business owners with no credit score or a score below 650.

On Jan. 1, Oklahoma City is launching a new micro-lending program and hub partnership with Kiva U.S. The program will fill a critical lending gap for businesses with affordable, flexible capital. Local entrepreneurs will be able to share a description of their business or idea and invite friends and family to lend to them. Anyone can loan as little as $25 to support a cause they care about, providing the entrepreneur a loan up to $15,000 with 0% interest for up to three years.

When the loan is repaid, lenders can opt to pull out their money or find a new investment to fund. Kiva loans have a historical repayment rate of about 975. The program helps the small business owner build credit and the ability to access larger capital in the future.

Kiva Oklahoma City is a partnership between the city of Oklahoma City, Progress OKC and the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. Progress OKC is a nonprofit community development corporation that supports and revitalizes underserved Oklahoma City communities. As the manager of the Kiva Hub, Progress OKC will market the program, screen applicants, help with applications and provide technical assistance. The city of Oklahoma City committed $100,000 to start Oklahoma City’s matching fund; other supporters of Kiva Oklahoma City include the Inasmuch Foundation and the Oklahoma City Black Justice Fund.Kiva was chosen as the platform for Oklahoma City because it is a nonprofit that has been facilitating crowdlending for 15 years internationally and for five years in the U.S. The organization has users who have lent more than $2 million to small businesses. Businesses can start applying now, so please help us spread the word. Consider getting involved as an investor. For as little as $25, you can help a local entrepreneur gain access to capital and grow their small business. To learn more about the program, go to progressokc.org.

Cathy O’Connor is president of The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City

This story originally ran one the JournalRecord.com. 

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