Pittsburgh Launches its Kiva City Movement

Evan Segal looks on as Tracy Carter speaks at the Kiva City Pittsburgh launch party.

“Pittsburgh is going to be a model for Kiva Zip.”

Evan Segal, a Pittsburgh business leader and Kiva Zip proponent, began the Kiva City Pittsburgh launch with a bold prediction. Last week, Pittsburgh became the 8th Kiva City, launching at Marty’s Market in Pittsburgh’s Strip District with over 160 attendees. The huge turnout demonstrated the potential in Segal’s promise, and Pittsburgh’s supportive, community-minded nature.
“What Kiva Zip is doing is not unlike what Pittsburghers have been doing for years: supporting each other," said Dr. Curtiss E. Porter, Chief Education & Neighborhood Reinvestment Officer of the Pittsburgh Mayor’s Office.

Pittsburghers proudly support local businesses, and Kiva Zip’s lending model adds a new dimension to fulfilling this philanthropic spirit. By lending as little as $5 through the website, anyone can participate in funding 0% interest microloans to new and existing entrepreneurs and help them gain access to capital that they might not otherwise have received. For first time lenders to most of these Pittsburgh loans, PNC Foundation will generously match loan amounts. Kiva City Pittsburgh is supported by PNC Charitable Trusts, PNC Foundation, Richard King Mellon Foundation and Henry L. Hillman Foundation Opportunity Fund. 

The event, hosted by new trustee Marty’s Market in the Strip District, was attended by former borrowers, trustee organizations that support local entrepreneurship, local politicians and supporters of Kiva Zip in Pittsburgh. The event featured a Kiva Zip merchant’s market, with seven borrowers selling their wares, from Pittsburgh-themed cards and shirts to locally roasted coffee.

Tracy Carter, owner of Shear Delight Hair Salon, spoke at the event about her experience receiving a loan from Kiva Zip: “In this cynical world, I couldn’t believe there were 95 people who were good enough to lend to me, and to believe in my dream. It was such an emotional journey for me, and I’m so grateful.”

Dr. Curtiss E. Porter, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, and Kiva President Premal Shah

Speakers included Kiva President Premal Shah, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Dr. Porter, and Kiva Zip loan recipients Maria Graziani and Tracy Carter. Graziani, who owns Healcrest Urban Farms, funded a $5,000 loan on Kiva Zip in November 2012, repaid it on time, and recently applied for a second loan of $10,000. This second loan funded in an astonishing 24-hour period.

In total, 12 Pittsburgh businesses have loans that are currently fundraising, and over 20 local entrepreneurs have received loans already.

Emily Keebler, Kiva City Pittsburgh Lead, captured the energy of the evening with a call to action, inviting attendees to participate as lenders, trustees and borrowers.

“Kiva City Pittsburgh is not a one time event – it’s the start of a movement,” Keebler said.

Participate in the movement by lending to a Pittsburgh entrepreneur here.

About the author

Susan Nielsen

Proudly Alaskan-born and raised, Susan has always had a natural curiosity for world-exploration and a strong sense of compassion for others. Susan attended the University of San Francisco as a University Scholar and received her B.A. in European History after spending a year in Oxford, England. Her time at USF and her subsequent years working, volunteering, and traveling abroad in various countries including Venezuela, Morocco, and Nicaragua honed her sense of social justice. During this time, Susan volunteered at an orphanage in India, earned her Master 100 Ton Captain's License, and ran a small non-profit aimed at diverting youth offenders from the juvenile justice system. Most recently, Susan worked as an Account Executive for a marketing and public relations firm in Santa Barbara, CA. Kiva’s mission embodies many of Susan’s priorities: tackling poverty with an innovative and contemporary approach that draws on human-to-human connection to empower individuals. Passionate about social justice, environmental issues, and politics, Susan is thrilled to become a Kiva Fellow and fulfill her desire to help others overcome adversity. Susan spends her free time playing outside, reading, dancing, cooking, practicing yoga, and playing with her dog.