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3 ways to support entrepreneurs

It takes a certain tenacity to weather the challenges of running a small business. Every business owner often must fulfill multiple roles, from producer and marketer to bookkeeper—and if it’s a particularly hard day—plumber.

The “small” in small business can be misleading: Entrepreneurs create 2 out of every 3 new jobs, invigorate social change, power supply chains, and drive economic growth that reaches far beyond their communities. They innovate creative solutions and deliver unique products and services that become integral to people’s lives and often scale into larger markets. Entrepreneurs may start small, but their capacity is mighty. 

Shawn, an entrepreneur from Oakland, CA, was able to hire a part-time employee with the help of a Kiva loan.

While we celebrate the people forging new markets and creating opportunities in their hometowns and online this National Small Business Week, we also want to share some ideas for supporting entrepreneurs all year long.

How to support entrepreneurs

Know an entrepreneur, and wonder how you can help them?

Or just looking for ways to be a supporter of the businesses that are driving our local economies?

Here’s how to support entrepreneurs and help fuel their growth.

1. Help them get funding

The literal meaning of “putting money where your mouth is,” facilitating access to capital is one of the most important ways to support entrepreneurs—and it doesn’t have to cost you much. Small business loans are the backbone of entrepreneurship, allowing entrepreneurs to build out commercial spaces, buy equipment, stock inventory, and hire staff to turn their ideas into a working enterprise. Small business owners can receive loans through traditional banks and the U.S. Small Business Administration, but many entrepreneurs don’t qualify for these programs due to insufficient collateral, lack of credit history, a past incarceration—or simply because their venture is too small.

That’s where Kiva comes in. In the United States, Kiva lenders directly support entrepreneurs by funding small business loans at zero percent interest. In small increments of $25, you can help crowdfund the money they need to grow. Many of these borrowers are minorities and women, who historically have a more difficult time securing loans for various reasons, including:

  • Gender and racial discrimination
  • Less opportunity to build credit scores
  • Lack of business experience

However, thanks to Kiva lenders, US entrepreneurs have more options to access capital—and turn it into thriving businesses.

Through Kiva, you can also help fund entrepreneurs from all around the world. Our Field Partners work in 77 countries to bring financial services to people working to open and run their own businesses, whether it’s a loan to stock a small grocery store or training on how to operate a water filtration franchise. Entrepreneurs outside the U.S. can face even more challenges securing capital, especially women, and Kiva loans help provide access to more resources.

2. Visit their business

Whether online or in-store, supporting entrepreneurs means taking an interest in their success and making a conscious choice to frequent their shops or hire their services. Sure, it can be convenient to default to corporate entities for certain goods and services, but seeking out entrepreneurs and small businesses not only supports their livelihoods, it promotes the health of local, regional, and national economies.

If you’re looking for a business you can support in the US, you can take a look at businesses who have taken loans from Kiva all around the country here. If you’d like to support an entrepreneur around the world, you can purchase some of their products directly on the Kiva store

3. Provide encouragement

Sometimes a person just needs a little validation that their idea is viable, their product tastes delicious, or their service is needed. Kind words can do wonders for an entrepreneur’s day-to-day outlook, and leaving positive feedback on their website or other review platforms can help them generate more business. You can offer examples of similar successes, and let them know how their small business is creating a positive impact in your life.

Altagracia used her Kiva loan to rebuild her internet store that serves the San Francisco community.

Kiva believes so strongly in the importance of community support for businesses, that we use it as a way of determining the credit-worthiness of US borrowers. At Kiva, having neighbors and friends vouch for a business carries more weight than it would in a traditional loan process, and we don’t reject entrepreneurs because of past credit history or how long their business has been around. Instead, each loan received during the Private Fundraising phase serves as a character reference, demonstrating that the borrower is creditworthy and ready to take on the entire loan.

Small but mighty

Entrepreneurs are the ones who bring creativity to commerce and help drive our economy. They shoulder the risks and face the challenges so they can realize their dream of selling their own clothes, baking fresh bread, or even helping other entrepreneurs with their marketing. When they succeed, our communities succeed.

Join us at Kiva as we support entrepreneurs this week—and always.

About the author

Jessica Leigh Lebos

Jessica Leigh Lebos is Kiva's Senior Storyteller and an award-winning writer based in Savannah, Georgia, USA. Covering social justice, cultural equity, sustainable growth, financial literacy, and always celebrating others' success, she is thrilled to help share Kiva's mission—and the stories of the people it connects.