Loan program helps small businesses in Richmond thrive

RICHMOND, Va. – A matching loan program helps small business owners get back on their feet and keep their doors open.

The Metropolitan Business League (MBL) helps businesses in the Richmond area apply for Kiva loans, which are available at no interest or charge to the small business borrower.

Richmonder Tawann Scott followed his dream and quit his online job at a mortgage company last October to open Marie’s Hair and Nail Supply on Brookland Boulevard.

“There was back and forth about whether I should do it? Shouldn’t I do it because of the pandemic?” Scott explained. “But it didn’t go as well as I thought, but we opened it in time.”

Since her business is less than six months old, it was difficult for Scott to go to a bank for a loan, as she didn’t have the often required business history.

“I had never been self-employed before,” Scott said. “I worked from home for a company, so it was like a big hurdle that I had to jump through.”

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Tawann Scott, owner of Marie’s Hair and Nail Supply

When she heard about the Kiva loan program through MBL, Scott jumped at the chance to get the capital she needed to improve her store.

To qualify, she first had to fundraise from friends and family to show that she was personally invested, as the loans are crowdfunding-centric. Then his fundraising page opened up to millions of investors nationwide, and Scott received enough support to reach his goal of $8,000 in just one week.

She used the funds to purchase products and shelves for her store, as well as for marketing.

“Without it, I might not have the products I need to sell,” she noted. “My marketing might not have thrived, so it would have put me in a bit of a rut, so please keep us open.”

Sharon Grooms, fixed assets manager for MBL, said Kiva loans can range from $5 to $10,000, and MBL is the only Kiva hub in Virginia, which means they approve small businesses like Marie’s. Hair and Nail Supply.

“Any candidate in our footprint, which is Greater Richmond, really Central Virginia, we build a relationship with them,” Grooms explained. “I get to know who the customer is just by talking to them and finding out something about their business. And when we think they’re ready, we approve.”

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Just one week after a small business reaches its fundraising goal through Kiva, the funds are distributed to them. The MBL also has a grants correspondent, Virginia LISC.

“They match dollar for dollar, so once someone donates $25 to your campaign, LISC, in an hour, their donation or contribution matches,” she noted.

The goal of Grooms and MBL is to help keep small businesses in Richmond alive.

“It’s so important to support your local businesses because they are part of your community,” Grooms said. “These are the people you probably know. They are your neighbors and they provide a product or service that you will need. To support them, you don’t have to go outside your area to do so.”

You do not need to be a member of MBL to receive their assistance in applying for a Kiva loan.

MBL is also preparing to award an additional $250,000 in grants through its “We Care” recovery grant program.


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