Building Community Through Kiva Zip

Elizabeth from The Happy Tomato displaying her sauce at Community Investment Collaborative's graduation ceremony in Charlottesville, VA.

It was my first week as a Kiva fellow. A few weeks earlier I left training in San Francisco and my laptop was filled with PDFs and powerpoints; I had all the facts of Kiva Zip down. In my mind, I knew that this was an innovative loan product; 0% interest loans crowdfunded by lenders around the world. Oh, and did I mention that the loan was 0% interest? That was the best part of a Kiva Zip loan.

Or at least I thought it was, until I got to Virginia and realized Kiva Zip was not only providing access to capital, it was providing borrowers, trustees and lenders access to community.

I sat down with one of my favorite people, Elizabeth, a Zip borrower who makes a sells tomato sauce to learn how Kiva Zip is helping build community.  We talked about how good she felt getting support from her lenders, how she shared recipe tips with them, how her production and sales increased, how she now speaks at public events, how she was able to hire part-time employees, and how one lender from Colorado ended up in Charlottesville, VA, picking up some of Elizabeth’s sauce. The conversation led me to ask her what she would want to say to her lenders in just one sentence. 

Her eyes started to fill with tears, she looked away for a moment, then turned back towards me and said, “How do I put into words the opportunity these people have given me.”

In a world of daily violence, political instability and discrimination, it is easy to forget that people care about one another and it is much harder to trust. Kiva Zip helps us put our trust back into people by lending based on a person’s character rather than financies. Kiva Zip helps us to show each other that we care and can build global communities on that shared desire to help and grow.

Kiva Zip allows trustees to connect with borrowers, strengthening the local network of small businesses and those who support them. Lenders are able to get involved with the economic health of their community by lending to small businesses that will provide services and products that benefit customers, and over time become employers. All users get to create long-lasting relationships based on support, advice and constant inspiration by engaging in conversations with lenders, trustees, and borrowers around the world.

Check out Elizabeth at the Happy Tomato here, and choose a borrower to put your trust in today!

About the author

Alyssa Thomas

Alyssa was born and raised in a small farm town in Connecticut, where she spent her childhood reading and spending time with her horse. She attended Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT where she double majored in International Business and Marketing, and has just finished her last semester. In 2011, she took a trip to Leon, Nicaragua to distribute microloans to a few small businesses. In preparation for the class, she read “Banker to the Poor” by Muhammad Yunus, it was an eye-opener for her that businesses and economic models could exist for a social cause and did not have to be about shareholder wealth. Alyssa started focusing more on social businesses, and through her position as the President of the International Business Society was able to bring Muhammad Yunus to speak at her university. She is excited for her Kiva Zip fellowship and hopes that it will help her better understand the loan process and challenges small businesses face in the United States. After her fellowship, she wants to work with small farmers helping them gain access to capital and fight harmful agricultural policies. In 2-3 years, she intends to go back to school for a Masters in Public Policy.