My experience as a Kiva Zip Fellow in Richmond has been exciting, unique, memorable, thought-provoking, eye-opening, I’ve had my ups, I’ve had my downs, mostly ups though, and I’ve been able to meet extremely intelligent individuals who are passionate about economic development, and who have shed a light on so many questions I had regarding a career in the non-profit sector, and more specifically, in economic development. And it couldn’t have been a better time, as I’ll be going into my senior year of college now, and will soon be making tough decisions that will affect the rest of my career life. But during this time, I also had the immense pleasure of getting to know amazing, driven, and hard working entrepreneurs, who are courageously setting out to live out their dreams and taking that step in life that scares most.

Starting a business is one of the hardest things you can do, and those who take that leap of faith and go out for what they want, without letting the fear of failure get in the way, in my opinion, are admirable.  During my Fellowship, I was able to meet some of these folks, and help them through the process of getting a Kiva Zip loan, which would allow them the opportunity to start or expand their business. On July 29th, we launched Kiva City Richmond, and 13 loans were posted the night before. Of the 13 loans that were posted, 6 have already fully funded, funds that came from regular folks like you and I and from all walks of life, who are lending a tiny chunk of money to help an entrepreneur reach his or her goal.



Some of the borrowers from Virginia I had the pleasure of working with

I became really interested in learning more about the borrowers’ perspective on the whole process, and on their experience with Kiva Zip thus far, so I came up with a little 5 question survey, and kindly asked them if they would answer the questions for me. Upon receiving their answers, I was filled with nothing but pride and joy, joy from hearing such positive and kind responses, pride in being able to help an organization like Kiva, who is clearly positively impacting lives and making a difference. I’d like to share with all of you, a couple of the responses for each question, and hopefully you too, will feel pride and joy, in supporting an organization that is creating opportunity where it’s truly needed.
 
Question #1: Were you struggling to find financing for your business before you found Kiva Zip?
 
Answer from Kiva Zip borrower Phea Ram, owner of Tropical Safari: “We were in a bind before we got introduce to Kiva by our trustee who's also your business incubator Suzanne and Shirley. I have already exhausted a my business credit cards and have already max out my personal 401K and personal loan from my only supporter in the family my wonderful little brother Johnny.”

Answer from Kiva Zip borrower Lacey Rollins, owner of Soles Citizen Functional Footwear: “Yes, I was struggling to find financing. I was at a crossroads when it came to financing. Do I take out my own loan from a bank and pay high interest rates? Or do I ask my parents for a loan? Neither option sounded that great so I'm very happy that Sarah Williams told me about Kiva Kip and then introduced me to Ana. “
 
Question #2: How will (has) the loan impact(ed) your life and business?
 
Answer from Kiva Zip borrower Valerie Roseborough, owner of The Tailored Nest: “It gave me a sense of relief knowing I could fund my events.”
 
Answer from Kiva Zip borrower Andrea Hancock, owner of B Dextereous: “It's given me hope to find funding that is reasonable to pay back and without interest is HUGE. It will make me work even harder to pay it back.”

Question #3: How has your experience with Kiva Zip being so far? Any drawbacks? 
 
Answer from Kiva Zip borrower Phea Ram, owner of Tropical Safari: “The experience has been really great! It has been a really good exposure for the company as a whole and it has reaffirm my faith in humanity that at the end of the day there are good in people that transcend races, social economic, gender and culture. The future for humanity looks bright!”
 
Answer from Kiva Zip borrower Lacey Rollins, owner of Soles Citizen Functional Footwear: “I've had nothing but a great experience with Kiva Zip and I'm truly glad I took this journey!”
 
Question #4: How was it like being part of the Kiva City Richmond launch? Was it worth your while? What was the highlight of the event? 

Answer from Kiva Zip borrowers Sue & Steph, owners of Stevie G’s Gluten Free Bakery: “It was a thrill for us to be part of the launch - the highlight was talking to all of the other borrowers and learning about their businesses and what they will do with their loan money.  Meeting Senator Warner was great too!”

Answer from Kiva Zip borrower Andrea Hancock, owner of B Dextereous: “I think meeting new people is usually worthwhile.  You never know where your connections can lead.  I think supporting an organization like Kiva was also worth it.  The highlight of the event was networking but also hearing the story of how Kiva started and the way it's moving forward and impacting so many lives. “
 
Question #5: What do you love most about Kiva Zip? (Besides the actual interest-free loan!)
 
Answer from Kiva Zip borrower Valerie Roseborough, owner of The Tailored Nest: “I love the purity of the product and the belief in the goodness of humankind.”

Answer from Kiva Zip borrowers Sue & Steph, owners of Stevie G’s Gluten Free Bakery: “We love the entire concept of Kiva Zip.  Empowering small business owners and the generosity of others.  It was amazing to watch our funding and see where the loans were coming in from.  It's humbling for us to be a part of Kiva Zip.”



It’s been amazing to hear such positive feedback from the borrowers themselves and to witness the power people and communities can have. None of this would be possible without the support of selfless and caring individuals who are willing to lend some of their money to a neighbor in need. It’s good to remember there’s good in this world, real honest good, and Kiva perfectly portrays that.

If you’d like to help a business owner reach his or her goal, you can do so here

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Ana Acosta Ana was born in Cuba, moved to Venezuela at the age of 2 where she lived for 8 years until moving to Miami. Growing up in Venezuela and visiting Cuba numerous times allowed her to personally experience the effects that inequality and poor economic development can have on people, communities, and countries. This perspective is what led her to dedicate her life to economic development in the nonprofit sector. She is one semester from graduating with a BS in Economics and a minor in Political Science. Ana spent a summer working for the UN Refugee Agency, primarily as fundraiser. Through her efforts, she was able to recruit countless sustainable donors and fundraise over $5,000. Becoming a Kiva Fellow is a dream come true, not only because of the unique experience she will gain, but also because she is a strong believer that microfinance is a truly sustainable solution to alleviating global poverty. After she finishes her undergraduate degree, Ana plans on taking a year off to travel and teach English abroad, or continue working in a nonprofit if given the opportunity. After, she plans to go on to Graduate School and get her Master's in Public Policy.
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