Why does Kiva work with small businesses in the U.S.?

At Kiva, we believe that access to safe, affordable capital can enable people to work towards their dreams and create better lives for themselves and their communities. This is true for people around the world, from the farmer in India, to the artisan in Guatemala, to the shop owner in Oakland, California.

The vast majority of loans on Kiva (more than 95%) are to people in developing countries, but we also facilitate loans in the United States to borrowers who are financially excluded and socially impactful.

While an entrepreneur in the U.S. may appear to have access to many financial resources and options, this isn't always true. Many people in the U.S. today are still excluded from traditional funding sources like banks, and are unable to access the capital they need to start or grow their business. And the need for new solutions is great: there are 46.7 million people living in poverty in the U.S., according to the U.S. Census, and income inequality has been growing for decades.

Kiva has facilitated loans to borrowers in the U.S. since 2009, and in 2016 our direct lending program became our main strategy for impact in the U.S. We pride ourselves on working with people from all different backgrounds, from the formerly incarcerated and veterans, to immigrants and sustainable food producers. Our hope is that by providing these entrepreneurs access to affordable capital, they'll be able to grow their businesses and their credit history, so they can access more traditional loans in the future.

We’ve also seen that many of these entrepreneurs create new jobs in their communities–more than 50% of Kiva U.S. entrepreneurs reported hiring employees after receiving their loan. Small businesses in general are the greatest source of new employment in inner cities and create 2 out of every 3 new jobs in the U.S.

We're very proud of this work, and it has brought many new lenders to the platform who are passionate about U.S. small business. It’s our plan and hope that through local and global lending we can multiply Kiva’s impact and continue to reach more communities. 

We know and respect that lenders have different preferences for how they want to use their money on Kiva. We encourage all lenders to direct their funds toward loans that align with where they want to make an impact.

About the author

Talea Miller

Talea is excited to combine her love for powerful storytelling and her digital strategy experience. She comes to Kiva from the Kaiser Family Foundation, where she managed digital strategy for the foundation's consumer-focused PSA campaigns. Prior to that she was a reporter and producer at the PBS NewsHour for five years. At the NewsHour she had the opportunity to travel extensively in the developing world as part of the program's global health unit, covering a wide range of stories including the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, doctor shortages in Tanzania and the mistreatment of the mentally ill in Indonesia. In addition to being a news junkie, Talea enjoys photography, hiking and attempting to paint. She graduated from Northwestern University with a B.S. in Journalism and is originally from Maryland. So she also knows a lot about horses.