Business

Kiva Iowa provides immigrant entrepreneurs with a boost.

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This program provides more than just support for small businesses. It also creates relationships between small business owners and lenders.

 

Cedar rapid: My husband and I were presented with a set of traditional African clothing by Darius and Wealee nupolu shortly after we met.

 

It would be an understatement to say that the Nupolu’s have a generous spirit. This generosity extends to how they manage their family business in Cedar Rapids.

 

In 2017, Darius, Weale, and their three children moved from Liberia to Cedar Rapids. Darius and Weale discovered that not all the Liberian vegetables were available locally, so he began to explore options for starting his farm.

 

It was a long-held dream that I finally realized in Cedar Rapids.

 

After linking up with Feed Iowa First, Darius could get up and run. He needed additional funding to move on.

 

After visiting their farm this summer, I shared information about Kiva Iowa, a new micro-lending platform available to Iowa business owners. It seemed like the ideal path forward for Nupolus’ new venture.

 

Kiva Iowa crowdfunded an $8,000 loan for Emerging Farms LLC last month.

Kiva, the first online micro-lending site for individuals, was founded in 2005. Kiva loans are available from $1,000 to $15,000 and have zero fees or interest.

 

Kiva allows ordinary people to pool small loans to give financial access to entrepreneurs around the world.

 

They are motivated by social change and expect to repay their loans. However, they do not seek to earn interest.

 

Iowa’s small business owners are the backbone of our communities and neighborhoods.

Kiva Iowa’s relationships with small business owners and lenders go beyond providing support for their small businesses. It becomes a personal link that ensures their long-term success.

After their success,

 

Weale and Darius shared the Kiva Iowa opportunity. The teepee was a close family friend. Teepee and her husband immigrated from West Africa to the United States during the Ebola outbreak in 2014.

 

Teepee moved to Cedar Rapids in 2003. She began looking into local catering options and started cooking and selling meals from her own home. The teepee was encouraged by many of her customers to expand her business.

 

Enter Tee’s Liberian Dish. Teepee’s new Cedar Rapids restaurant serves Liberian cuisine for lunch, dinner, and breakfast.

Entrees include rice, meats, different vegetables, and a variety of sauces and gravies. Teemu is also looking for investment through Kiva Iowa, thanks to Wealee and Darius.

 

Immigrant entrepreneurs face unique obstacles to success, just like many Kiva borrowers. These business owners might be starting a tech-based company or opening a local shop. They may also have to deal with financing and structuring a business in different countries and cultures.

 

Kiva envisions a world where everyone can improve their financial lives. This includes immigrant-owned businesses. Kiva programs have helped many Iowa immigrant-owned businesses fuel the local economy, especially in small communities.

 

In the United States, more than 20 percent of small-business ownere

hip is owned by immigrants.

 

Jumpstarting your own business is a huge risk. These entrepreneurs are determined to succeed, and Kiva gives them the confidence to grow their businesses.

 

Kiva is located at the bottom of the capital ladder. This is the best option for those just starting or wishing to build their credit. 70% of businesses that raised funds on Kiva in 2021 were under three years old.

 

This platform provides entrepreneurs with critical early-stage funding and allows supporters to invest in their local entrepreneurial community easily.

Kiva is not a donation but a loan. It allows investors to turn their money around and positively impact Iowa and even the world.

 

From Cafe on the Go, Rachael is Kiva Iowa’s latest borrower. Iowa City’s mobile cafe. Cafe on the Move specializes in handcrafted beverages and pastries from local bakeries.

 

Rachael will use her Kiva Loan to buy new equipment, including an espresso machine and commercial grinder, as well as a tea brewer, for her trailer. She would also like to add a sign on her trailer and install a retractable wall that will allow her operation during the winter months.

Kiva Iowa made it possible to seven Iowa-based companies to get early capital in the first six months of its operation.

 

These businesses reflect the uniqueness of each Iowa community. Kiva Iowa will continue to grow in the next year. We look forward to sharing stories with our borrower community and connecting these entrepreneurs to resources and support.

 

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