Hey there budding entrepreneur, are you finding yourself looking for ways to grow your business?Are you telling yourself, “If I just had more inventory or more capital, my business could…?” Me too!

The search for ways to fund your business can be overwhelming and intimidating. There is a wide selection of grants and loans that can leave a business owner confused and unsure of which path to take. Yet, the number of grants that your business qualifies for may be limited and applying for a traditional small business loan may have you jumping through more hoops than you can qualify for.

Pitching my business to an investor was another thought, I considered. But was I really willing to give up part of my business so early in the game? No.

As a the co-owner of a year-and-a-half old leather goods business, UnoEth, I found myself at a crossroads, weighing out our options for funding our young business. Scrolling through the Oakland Small Business Assistance Center’s website one day, I stumbled upon information about a non-profit organization called Kiva.

Kiva is the first and largest micro-lending service in the world that has distributed $709 million over 10 years, in 85 different countries (almost 30 countries in Africa), among 1.5 million small businesses. I was delighted to find that many philanthropic foundations, Fortune 500 CEOs, small business owners like myself, and giving individuals contribute to many loans on Kiva. I was also inspired by the giving community on Kiva where lenders and entrepreneurs support one another to reach their goals.

Xiomara and Dagne Bio Shot

After reviewing the terms and qualifications, I thought, “Hey, I think this may be the right path for my business.” I applied immediately. Several days later, I received a call informing me that we had been approved and our private funding round started immediately! In the private funding round, each entrepreneur needs to have a certain amount of lenders contribute to their loan in 15 days in order to qualify to the next round. After reaching out to close friends and family, we reached our goal before the deadline.

We are currently in the public round of our crowdfund and are over 20% funded—woo hoo! Reaching out personally in our network and social media has helped us gain momentum in raising funds. In addition, contributions from the Kiva network has greatly helped as well. With less than 3 weeks left, we are confident in reaching our goal so that we can support our artisans and vendors in Ethiopia, increase our inventory, and market our business. Click here to contribute to our Kiva loan!

Should you wish to follow our example and start your own crowdfund, take some time to research. There are crowdfunds that can help take your business to the next level such as KivaIndiegogo or Fundable. Find out which is the best fit for your business and go with it. Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth, social media, and the giving personalities of those who may be moved by your business’ mission as well. If you don’t take the risk, you’ll never know what amazing opportunities the adventure may lead!

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