LA Entrepreneurs Carry on a Gumball Tradition

Ezequiel Olvera was just 11 years old when he first met Alfredo, a cobbler and small-business owner in Los Angeles. Even at that young age, Ezequiel already had the entrepreneurial bug and approached Alfredo to ask if he could put a gumball machine in Alfredo’s shoe repair shop.  Alfredo agreed, as long as Ezequiel maintained good grades. Ezequiel held up his end of the bargain and he continued to place gumball and refreshment machines around the city, saving the profits towards his college fund.
Years later, Ezequiel’s entrepreneurial start led him to form the Gumball Foundation, a program that engages middle and high school students to run their own small-scale businesses as an educational tool. Ezequiel is also returning the support to Alfredo, by acting as a trustee and endorsing him for a Kiva Zip loan, along with other hardworking entrepreneurs in the LA area, like Omar, a custom cabinet maker.
Getting access to capital is difficult for many entrepreneurs in the United States.  But with Kiva Zip and our lenders throughout the world, access to 0% interest capital is now a possibility for borrowers like Alfredo and Omar, using a trust-based approach that relies on trustees to vouch for the character of the borrower.  
Trustees are organizations or individuals, like Ezequiel at the Gumball Foundation, who have standing relationships with the borrowers and can speak positively about the borrower’s integrity and the soundness of the business.
Alfredo's business has always been a customer-oriented, old fashion shoe cobbler service.  Now he is seeking a $5,000 loan to improve machinery and displays, as well as expand his business into his passion of handmade leather goods. 

Omar launched his new cabinetry business with the guidance of his farther, a carpenter with more than 25 years of experience. He quickly grew the company from two employees to ten personally-trained craftsmen! He needs a $5,000 loan to buy new machinery, purchase advertising, and increase wages to his team.  

Ezequiel Olvera with his original gumball vending machine

LA Roots, Global Support
Alfredo and Omar's loans already have supporters from Los Angeles, across the United States, and from countries around the world, like Spain, Germany, Canada, Australia and Taiwan!  
These are all lenders who have read about Alfredo and Omar, believed in them and their businesses, and decided to support them through a loan.  This really demonstrates the true beauty of global connectedness and the power of the Zip platform.

Alfredo and Omar's  lenders around the world
Direct Engagement
One of the most unique aspects of the Kiva Zip platform is the ability for direct engagement.  On Alfredo’s page, you’ll see a lively discussion about the art of crafting and repairing quality shoes, recommendations to replace a declining brand, and many words of encouragement.  Alfredo even welcomes everyone to stop by his shop or send in his or her shoes for repair!

Conversation Tab from Alfredo's Kiva Zip Page

True Passion
And last but absolutely not least, let's talk about PASSION.  Kiva Zip actively focuses on financially excluded entrepreneurs and socially impactful businesses and a positive side effect of this is the truly passionate individuals it attracts. 

Kiva, Kiva Zip, and these entrepreneurs throughout the world and in the United States have inspired me.  During my first Kiva Fellowship in Kenya, I witnessed how access to capital and micro-capitalism can move people from subsistence to profitability, impacting equality, health, and education in profound ways.  The experience was amazing, humbling, and life-changing. The fellowship was so amazing that I decided to extend it, which is how I ended up in Los Angeles.
Already I’m seeing the impact that an innovative model like Kiva Zip can drive.  Something both progressive and touching happens with the right combination of technological innovation, integrity, and transparency. 

I'm happy to be able to share more stories with you as I continue my Fellowship in LA!

Interested in supporting Alfredo or Omar?  Lend (as low as $5) today!  They need to fundraise to 100% to get their much-needed 0% interest capital.
Remember, this is a loan, not a donation.  Once you get your funds back, you are free to withdraw or re-invest in another great entrepreneur!  If you're new to the Kiva Zip site, your loan will also be matched.  That means, if you lend $50, it will be matched and contributed as $100!

About the author

Lucy Prom

What matters most to Lucy is largely shaped by a world that existed before her. In one lifetime, her family became self-made business owners, lost it all during the Cambodian Khmer Rouge reign, and survived abusive labor camps, poor living conditions, and near death starvation. She is the youngest of seven and the only one fortunate enough to be born in America (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) where her daily stresses were not about survival. She considers herself very lucky and therefore have learned from her family’s past to see the intrinsic value in opportunities and community. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, she moved to New York to work for Google in sales. A few years later, her career at Google brought her to China where she quickly developed an interest in developing countries and how innovative business models such as microfinancing and microwork sourcing can make an impact in the economy and the lives of the people there. She wants to join Kiva in pushing the limits of technology to make a difference in the world. By focusing on the human side of business, she believes she can give back to the world that has given so much to her and her family. She believes she can help promote global awareness, education, and self-sustainability to future world citizens and prevent things like the Khmer Rouge from ever happening again.