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Microloans for Food Producers and Small Businesses

The Kohala Center News Release

Food producers and small businesses in Hawaii seeking financial support now have a local ally to help them secure no-interest microloans through one of the world’s leading crowdfunding platforms.

The Kohala Center, an independent nonprofit organization based on Hawaii Island, was recently designated by Kiva as the regional Kiva Hub for the Hawaiian Islands.

From helping Mother Nature’s Miracle on Hawaii Island acquire a greenhouse to enabling Molokai Livestock Cooperative to invest in marketing, more than 60 food producers and small businesses on six islands, including Molokai, have partnered with Kiva and The Kohala Center to secure more than $510,000 in no-interest loans to grow and expand their operations. Nearly 80 percent of borrowers are farmers or ranchers.

A nonprofit based in San Francisco, Kiva is the world’s first and largest peer-to-peer online lending program that provides 0 percent interest business loans through crowdfunding. This unique approach provides borrowers who may have barriers to accessing capital with an interest-free option to obtain crucial funding to start or expand their businesses. Kiva connects entrepreneurs and small business owners worldwide with benefactors who can loan as little as $25. Collectively, these add up to loans in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. As borrowers repay their loans, Kiva disburses payments back to lenders, who in turn can reinvest in new loans.

With a longstanding interest in improving food security in Hawaii through rural and cooperative business development, The Kohala Center is uniquely motivated to provide assistance to Hawaii’s agricultural and value-added food producers, providing no-cost consulting to more than 200 local entrepreneurs annually.

“Kiva’s community-based approach to microlending aligns with our own efforts to build respectful and healthy relationships between people, ‘āina, local food, and local economies,” said Cheryl Ka‘uhane Lupenui, president and CEO of The Kohala Center. “Borrowers and lenders alike can work together to have positive impacts on our local food systems, the health of our working lands, and ultimately the health of our communities.”

How Kiva loans work:
• A borrower applies for a loan at kiva.org/borrow.
• The loan goes through the Kiva underwriting and approval process.
• The loan is posted to Kiva for community lenders to support.
• Fundraising period: Lenders crowdfund the loan in increments of $25 or more.
• Borrower repays the loan, and community lenders are repaid via Kiva.
• The lenders use repayments to fund new loans or they withdraw the money.

Interested small businesses and food producers are encouraged to start an application at kiva.org or contact The Kohala Center at 808-887-6411 or info@kohalacenter.org. Prospective lenders can learn more and get started at kiva.org/lend.

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