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New Field Partners: Kiva and CAMEO team up to bring micro-loans to California small businesses

Slowly but surely, Kiva has been expanding its presence in the United States. We've launched Kiva cities in Detroit, New Orleans and Los Angeles where we partner with community and microfinance organizations. We have partners in San Diego and Texas and Kiva Zip serves borrowers across the country.

Now, we're especially proud to be beefing up microfinance offerings in California with three new partners: TMC Working Solutions, Fresno Community Development Financial Institution, and the Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment (PACE). All three organizations belong to the California Association for Microenterprise Opportunity, known as CAMEO, to promote microlending in the state.

CAMEO supports 35 lending institutions that provide entrepreneurs with financing, asset-buidling programs, business development and technical assistance and business management training. In 2011, CAMEO members brought these services to 21,000 very small businesses -- most of them start-ups with fewer than 5 employees -- which created a total of 37,000 new jobs.

Working Solutions is a nonprofit organization in the San Francisco Bay Area that provides microloans, technical assistance and referrals for local resources in addition to educational workshops. To date, it's delivered $2.6 million in capital to small businesses in the region, creating jobs, stimulating the local economy and stabilizing communities. More than 65% of the borrowers who get funded through Working Solutions come from low-income backgrounds.

Similarly, PACE is a nonprofit community development organization based in Central Los Angeles that caters to various ethnic groups, particularly the Hispanic community. It offers credit and training to low-income individuals an families seeking employment, better financial literacy and affordable housing. Altogether, the organization has helped create 80 businesses and over 250 jobs in three years, impacting 724,000 people.

Fresno CDFI operates in Fresno, also providing affordable financing and technical assistance. It regularly offers loans up to $250,000 to help businesses increase their working capital and purchase new equipment. It also has some specialized loan products, including refugee microenterprise loans, enterprise development loans and employee emergency loans. The organization distinguishes itself by tailoring loans to its clients. For example, refugee microenterprise loans are designed specifically for individuals with weak or no credit history and little collateral.

This CAMEO-Kiva collaboration brings in new resources, investors and capital to promote and establish high standards for California microlenders.

All three new partners, Working Solutions, PACE and Fresno CDFI, experience high demand. Kiva's flexible, risk-tolerant capital will enable them to serve more people, expand their programs and reach those who need smaller loans with more flexible terms.


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About the author

Amniya Shahbozova

Amniya was born in Khorog, Tajikistan, a city on the Tajik-Afghan border. After finishing high school, she obtained a scholarship to study Accounting, Analysis and Audit at the Finance Academy under the Government of Russia. After graduating and working for two years as an accountant in Moscow, Russia, she interned with Aga Khan Foundation, USA in Washington DC where she became interested in microfinance. She then completed an MSc. in International Business at University West in Sweden and returned to Tajikistan, where she worked as Social Performance and Product Development Officer and later Product Development Manager for the First MicroFinance Bank (FMFB). While working for FMFB, Amniya facilitated the first loan program for Afghan refugees in Tajikistan with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and led the Bank’s development of Remittance Linked Savings for Tajik migrants in Russia. Amniya is an avid traveler, and loves listening to music both from Tajikistan and North America.