Loan scheme ‘is for real’


Kaitlin Byers, Head of Capital Access for Kiva Iowa, speaks to the audience at EntreFEST 2022 in Iowa City. (New BoCo)

As the founder of Rainbow Lake Farm in Chelsea, Zachary Brown had big ideas on how to expand the operation. But he needed a loan.

In Cedar Rapids, Meggie Hounyovi was looking to incorporate her clothing design business, Megglam Boutique, into her own Lindale Mall storefront.

In Denver, Iowa, Hanna Nuss needed help finding a physical location for her online gift shop, Up-Gift.

These are just three of Iowa’s business owners who received a boost in 2022 with successful loans through Kiva Iowa.

Kiva is an international non-profit organization, founded in 2005, whose mission is to connect people through loans.

With as little as a $25 loan, anyone can help a borrower start or grow a business, go to school, access clean energy, and realize their potential.

Kiva’s Iowa branch launched in 2021 and has already funded over $226,000 in loans to 34 borrowers across the state.

“We have a lot of amazing administrators who have joined the program, and I’ve been able to have a lot of meaningful dialogue with business owners and lenders across the state,” said Kaitlin Byers, access manager. in capital for Kiva Iowa. .

“Over the past year, we’ve really built a lot of credibility and shown that this program is real.”

Find a match

Byers said Kiva Iowa had many significant wins in 2021, but one of the biggest was establishing a matching loan fund with Cedar Rapids Bank and Trust this summer.

CRBT’s Matching Loan Fund aims to distribute $100,000 in matching funds to underfunded business owners, providing dollar-for-dollar matching to Kiva’s community-supported loan program, which is already interest-free and interest-free. no charges.

The new partnership also gives Kiva borrowers access to a longer-term banking partner as they grow their business.

“We are extremely excited to partner with NewBoCo to support diverse and dynamic small business owners in the state of Iowa,” said James Klein, President of CRBT.

“As a community bank, this kind of financial inclusivity is at the heart of our mission.”

To date, Kiva Iowa has served an incredibly diverse range of businesses, including education, healthcare, communications/media, crafts, agriculture, restaurants/catering, arts, retail retail, food production, technology, apparel and cosmetics, Byers said.

More than two-thirds of borrowers are women.

Blacks, Afro-Caribbeans, Africans or African Americans make up 67% of lenders, Latinos or Hispanic Americans at 11% and White, non-Hispanic or Euro-Americans at 23%. Lenders come from all over Iowa, with 21 different cities represented so far.

From farms to shop windows

At Rainbow Lake Farm, Brown wanted to install four acres of native grassland, as well as construct an elevated tunnel greenhouse, in an effort to expand his farm’s offerings. So he started applying for a $13,500 loan through Kiva in early July.

At the end of the month, the loan was fully funded.

“This loan will give us the tools and the infrastructure to be profitable this year so that we can continue to reinvest in this project,” he said. “Kiva makes the community more aware of our project. And the fact that it’s crowdfunded, and there are no fees, is pretty amazing.

Zachary Brown is the owner of Rainbow Lake Farm, a two-acre regenerative vegetable farm in Chelsea. (New BoCo)

Founded in 2019, Megglam Boutique is a clothing and accessories boutique specializing in handmade African clothing, jewelry, clothing and accessories for women, men and children.

All designs are creations of Hounyovi. As an African American woman from Benin in West Africa, Hounyovi said she wanted to express her love for her culture through fashion.

Megglam Boutique opened its new location at Lindale Mall in October, also following a Kiva loan.

“What I really love about Kiva is how it connects you to so many other people,” Hounyovi said. “I think more small business owners need to know the Kiva program exists because it can make a big difference.”

Up-Gift also opened a physical location in Denver on a loan from Kiva. Hanna Nuss said it allowed her to live a dream.

“My passion comes from proving what is possible,” she said. “I love living everything out loud in my home state of Iowa.”

For Byers — who once owned and operated his own business and knows the challenges that can bring — Kiva Iowa has more than lived up to expectations since its founding in 2021.

“This role has been so great for me because not only have I been able to help people, but I’ve also built long-term relationships with them as their businesses grow,” she said. declared.

To learn more about Kiva Iowa, apply for a loan, or support the many Iowa businesses seeking financing, visit

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