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Kiva and Visa Partner Up, Extend Into Gulf Coast Region

Kiva, fresh off its expansion into higher education loans and one year after its entrance into the U.S. market, is moving full speed ahead to help Gulf Coast entrepreneurs recover from devastating setbacks.

Kiva announced today–on the one-year anniversary of their entrance into the U.S. market–an aggressive expansion into the Gulf Coast region, funded by a $1 million dollar donation from Visa, and spurred by a new partnership with ACCION Texas-Louisiana. The announcement comes just one month after Kiva, an online global micro-lending site, diversified into higher education loans, indicating the San Francisco-based non-profit is doing pretty well.

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“The power of microfinance to my business? [It provides] Accessibility to
working capital to fund construction jobs at the front end,” New
Orleans borrower Damion Jeanpiere, pictured above, tells Fast Company.

Jeanpiere had a successful construction business prior to
Hurricane Katrina that was thrashed when the storm hit. And after
building it back up again, the oil spill forced him to lay off several
employees and he was almost forced to let go of several high-return
construction contracts.

“Because I was just starting out, I didn’t have a commercial
credit history. Without these microloans, keeping my business would
have been a challenge. The business environment before the oil spill
was such that a traditional loan wasn’t possible. We took our first
ACCION Texas-Louisiana loan just before the oil spill, and it carried
us through until another big project came along,” Jeanpiere says. 

Kiva President Premal Shah said in a press release: “We see this partnership with Visa as a meaningful opportunity to empower small business owners and help revive the U.S. economy, starting with a region in urgent need.” 

Visa Executive William Sheedy added, 
“This partnership advances a shared mission of both Visa and Kiva: helping small businesses grow and ultimately create jobs. For many small business owners, a microloan can have an immediate impact and be a critical catalyst for their long-term success.”

ACCION was recently rated the world’s most effective non-profit microfinance institution and their regional entity, ACCION Texas-Louisiana will allow Kiva lenders to directly support and stimulate local economies that have been battered in recent years.

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ACCION’s portfolio will also get a boost.

“The Gulf Coast has been hit hard by the economic recession and several disasters. Small businesses are critical to recovery and with Kiva lenders we will be able to invest in even more entrepreneurs,” said founding president and CEO of ACCIÓN Texas-Louisiana, Janie Barrera, in the press release.

Follow me, Jenara Nerenberg, on Twitter.

About the author

Jenara is an overseas reporter for Fast Company and a freelance writer/producer in Asia, regularly on CNNGo, and a graduate of Harvard and UC Berkeley.

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