Philanthropy, microlender boost entrepreneurs

Associated Press Modified: September 21, 2012 at 12:30 pm •  Published: September 21, 2012

DETROIT (AP) — A philanthropy working to help Michigan rebound from its economic troubles and a microlender are teaming up on a new way to boost Detroit entrepreneurs, officials announced Friday.

Kiva Zip allows people to nominate a local entrepreneur for community support and contribute directly to a crowd-funded, interest-free loan. It also provides new ways for entrepreneurs and potential supporters to interact about their plans, including an online forum.

The effort by Michigan Corps and microlending website builds on the microlending initiative Kiva Detroit, which was launched in 2011. Loans through Kiva Zip may include zero-interest funding up to $5,000. Kiva Detroit allows people to get funding up to $50,000.

"The Michigan Corps community is uncovering emerging and long-standing entrepreneurs for whom a loan ... can have an extraordinarily positive impact," Premal Shah, president of Kiva, said in a statement.

Organizers said Kiva Detroit loan recipient Delphia Simmons of Thrive Detroit, which is involved in efforts to prevent and end homelessness, has nominated a Detroit business called Puzzle Piece Theatre to launch Kiva Zip's first fundraising campaign.

Puzzle Piece Theatre is seeking a $5,000 loan to help rent a venue, pay for production royalties, pay actors and crew and put on performances.

Michigan Corps formed in 2010 with the idea to draw on the resources, talents and ideas of people around the world with ties to the state. It's been involved in other efforts including connecting business entrepreneurs with mentors and helping students improve their communities.



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