Salisbury taking another look at Kiva program to help local businesses

Published 12:05 am Sunday, February 26, 2023

SALISBURY — Being a small business owner is one of the most challenging but rewarding jobs a person can have. One of the toughest aspects is getting adequate funding to accomplish goals. To raise money for the things they need, many business owners have turned to Kiva for help.

Kiva is a crowdfunding platform that provides interest-free loans to small businesses with a focus on minorities and women. Kiva offers a maximum of $15,000 for one loan, which is less than the minimum of what a typical bank can lend out.

A few years ago, Salisbury City Council member David Post was introduced to Kiva by the the mayor of Oakland. Salisbury soon adopted the Kiva program as a partnership with Self-Help Credit Union, but all didn’t go as originally planned.

“The model was very, very different so it didn’t, for a number of reasons, produce the success that anybody wanted. So, we put it on hold,” Post said. The nationwide model that Kiva follows did not work for well for a community the size of Salisbury.

Post is trying to come up with a new model to present to council to see if Kiva work again under a different setup. It requires applicants to meet certain criteria, share reasons for a loan and to have financial backing from friends and family before others start contributing.

“Their theory is if you can’t get your family and friends to chip in then the public’s not going to support you,” Post said.

Because Salisbury is smaller than a city like Oakland, it’s harder for businesses to get funding because there is less money to go around and not as many people here who have the resources to help out.

Businesses in Salisbury can still apply for a Kiva loan, but the city is unable to provide matching funds to assist. Post has tried to think of other ways to use some of Salisbury’s existing funds to help match Kiva loans and is expected to announce those in the next few months.

BUSINESS: One childcare operation would operate around the clock if funding comes through, Page 1C.