No doubt by now you’ve been hit up to pledge a Kickstarter campaign ranging from the very worthy (supporting the Here Now collaborative pop up shop) to the extreme frivolous (the Veronica Mars movie). Kiva loans, brand new to Portland, are not the same.

Kiva Microfunds is a 501 non-profit organization that allows people to lend money via the Internet to people in need of short-term loans to begin or build their small businesses. In the Portland world, Hawthorne boutique Mag-Big and its claim to fame as the largest collection of Portland-based designers anywhere in the world featuring nearly 600 small production designers who create jewelry, apparel, house ware, craft, body care, and visual art was selected by Kiva to participate in their first round of Portland lending. 

A look from Mag-Big's current in house collection.
A look from Mag-Big's current in house collection.

This is not the same as handing over your money in exchange for a signed poster by the band (though if the band is hot enough I’ll still do that). It’s a 0% loan for the small business that you are fully repaid for.

Here’s how it works:

Make a loan

You make a loan on Kiva Zip. That loan goes directly to a small business owner or entrepreneur via PayPal.

Get updates

Throughout the life of the loan, you will see progress updates from Kiva through your email, and if you come back to the site.

Get paid back

As the borrower repays the loan, the money becomes available in your account. This is called your Kiva Credit.

Repeat

You can now use it to fund another loan, donate it to Kiva, or withdraw it to spend on something else.

A 0% loan to fund the next step of a small business can be sink or swim time for a growing company. In the case of Mag-Big, shop owner Cassie Ridgeway (also a serious supporter of local fashion as producer of the Alley 33 fashion show) is looking for $5,000 to take their newbie in-house line to the next step with the addition of some industrial machines, technical equipment, and additional labor help. With a ringing endorsement from Mercy Corps, along with funding halfway there, it seems on track for Ridgeway to successfully make her goal and Kiva loans to help us put our money where our mouth is with community support (and still get our money back).

To support Mag-Big or find out more about Kiva, click here.

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