On Oct. 2, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and micro lending company Kiva announced the launch of Kiva San Francisco, an initiative designed to empower 1,000 Bay Area small business owners with zero interest loans over the next five years. Kiva San Francisco is specifically designed to connect traditionally underserved entrepreneurs, such as immigrants, veterans and women, with the funding they need to expand their businesses. KRON 4 News has reported that the initiative is expected to help create 750 new local jobs.
Kiva has achieved worldwide success by providing a platform in which lenders from across the world can make small dollar loans to cash-poor entrepreneurs. The Kiva San Francisco project is a partial outgrowth of Mayor Lee’s Invest in Neighborhoods initiative, which has already succeeded in creating 1,061 new jobs by issuing 459 local small business loans. To underscore how quickly the small business micro loans can impact the local economy, the Kiva San Francisco announcement was made at the Dragon Papa Chinese pastry shop, a successful business that only came into existence last year after securing a small business loan from the city. Dragon Papa owner, Derek Lam, now hopes to get a $10,000 Kiva San Francisco loan to purchase a new delivery vehicle and hire additional staff.
Kiva San Francisco has already attracted one high-profile supporter, Capital One Bank. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the financial institution has pledged $850,000 to fund the program over the next three years, with $75,000 going to match every dollar lent through Kiva San Francisco. Capital One chose to get involved as a recent survey it conducted found that SF female and minority small business owners faced higher than average difficulties securing lines of credit. Mayor Lee was optimistic about the program continuing San Francisco’s remarkable high employment trend, saying, “Small businesses are the backbone of San Francisco’s economy, and when we invest in their success, we are investing in vibrant merchant corridors, job creation and a stronger economy.”
Mario McKellop is a freelance writer who has covered the pop culture beat since 2010.