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Should I get a Kiva loan for my small business? Do I qualify?

Photo credit: Maarten van den Heuvel

What can Kiva offer you, the borrower?

0% interest loans

At Kiva you can qualify for a loan between $1,000-$10,000, with no interest! Seriously. Whether you’re in the idea phase, start-up mode, or an established business, you can apply. And the money can go towards any business purpose: working capital, equipment, inventory, marketing, or project-based investments. Whatever will help your business.

Flexible repayment plans

Everyone business’s repayment abilities are different. When you apply, you can choose what works for you. Kiva repayments are paid monthly between 6 months and 3 years, so you can choose if you would prefer to pay off the loan faster or have a lower monthly payment. And if you are doing well and want to pay off your loan ahead of time, you’re always welcome to! For more information on the repayment process, click here.

No minimum credit score

Kiva does not grant loans based on credit scores or history. In fact, we never reject an entrepreneur because of their credit, net worth, or years in business. Instead, while we do look at your financials, we prioritize your character, the impact your loan will have on your community, and how much support you have from your community. This is shown by proving to us that you have a network of people who believe in you and your business and are willing to invest. For more information on this process, click here.

Free marketing

When your loan is posted to the Kiva site, it becomes visible to our network of lenders worldwide. The exposure can get you new customers interested in your business and in buying from you or using your services! There is also the possibility that we’ll spotlight your business on our blog or social media, making your business visible to even more potential customers!

Access to advice and the Kiva network

We’ve been around for 12 years, and in that time we’ve learned a lot. Kiva offers lots of resources, tips, and previous borrower experiences on a range of topics to our borrowers. Check out the Kiva U.S. Business Center to see what we have to offer.

Access to the Kiva network also means the possibility of working with a Trustee or Lead.

  • A Lead is a person that acts as the primary local contact for Kiva. They can coach you through your application, fundraising, and repayment process to ensure the most successful experience possible.

  • Trustees are entrepreneurs who vouch for your creditworthiness, making your loan’s review process much smoother and easier. They also make your business visible to their larger network, which expands your own network. Trustees have business experience, and many of them are previous Kiva borrowers, and they will advise you for the entire duration of your Kiva loan, offering resources and advice to ensure you are successful throughout fundraising and repayment.


Requirements for a Kiva loan:

  • You and your business must be based in the United States.

  • You must at least 18 years old.

  • The loan must be for business purposes. No personal loans are allowed.

  • Your business must not be:

    • A multi-level marketing or direct sales business

    • A franchise business

    • Pure financial investing, such as stocks

    • Involved in any illegal activities

  • You cannot currently be in foreclosure, bankruptcy, or under any liens.

Kiva will not fund a loan that violates any of the above requirements.


The best borrower:

Has a business plan

Having a business plan that is specific and forward thinking shows the potential of your business to both Kiva and potential lenders. This is also good for ensuring the strength and future of your business.

Has a strong network of supporters 

To demonstrate your social capital, you will need to have 10-25 people invest in you during the Private Financing Period. The more people in your network who will support you, the faster you can have your loan posted on the Kiva site. A strong support network is also a good indicator that your loan will do well with lenders on the Kiva site. For more information on this process and how to fundraise, click here.

Is responsive

Kiva will need to contact you multiple times during the loan approval, funding, and repayment process.  We prioritize borrowers who respond to our emails and phone calls in a timely and polite manner. It’s easier and much more pleasant for everyone.

Will see a significant impact to their business from the loan

The Kiva loan should make a difference to your business, allowing you to either increase revenue or decrease expenses, as well as creating a social impact. How exactly you use the loan to create this impact is up to you, be it in marketing, hiring new employees, buying inventory, or some other avenue.

Uses social media

A website and large maintained social media presence goes a long way towards both getting your Kiva loan approved and attracting lenders and funding the loan. The bigger your social media presence, the better.

Is socially aware

Part of Kiva’s mission is to help businesses that seek to affect change. The borrowers who connect best with Kiva and with Kiva’s lender network are ones who are trying to create a positive impact on any level, from a community to the entire world.


Feel like a Kiva U.S. loan is perfect for your business?

Click here to learn what you need to apply and click here to start the application.

About the author

Emily Fockler

Emily is a recent graduate of Princeton University with a major in English Literature. She is a Bay Area native who is happy to be back from the snow and humidity of the East Coast. She is an experienced writer and graphic designer, specifically focused on marketing and publicity. She has always had an interest in exploring and understanding the world and people around her. In her spare time, she reads, writes fiction, spends time with her family and her cats, and runs long distance. She hopes to be an author and a teacher later in her life.