Kiva Community Loans Continue to Help Small Businesses Thrive

Dec 3, 2021

In the spring of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced many small businesses across the country to face hard decisions, including whether to close their doors or do their best to survive one of the worst economic storms of the 21st century. Many small businesses had to be creative to survive and stay open but needed funding to implement these innovative changes.

Northwest Arkansas (NWA) entrepreneur Melissa, a co-owner of Honeycomb Kitchen Shop in downtown Rogers, had shut down the store’s standard in-person cooking classes due to the pandemic but wanted to stay open in other ways to survive. She and her business partner Dana pivoted their business model by providing virtual cooking classes online to their class schedules to service their current customers and find new ones online in the region. They quickly revamped their website and added a local pickup service to maintain their retail sales on the digital front. Melissa sought a community funded, zero-percent interest Kiva microloan to expand the store’s teaching kitchen because the classes online had grown their customer base so much during the pandemic (including many requested children’s classes) that Melissa and Dana knew that once they opened again to in-person classes, they would need the extra space. Due to its creative changes to its business model during the pandemic, Honeycomb Kitchen Shop reported a record-breaking holiday season in 2020 and continued to grow and expand in 2021.

The Kiva NWA Hub also expanded its services during 2020 and 2021. To date, 56 small business owners in Northwest Arkansas have become Kiva borrowers, and they have been fully funded with micro-loans from the NWA community and the entire US Kiva community ranging from $3,000 to $15,000. A winning circle is formed when the community joins together to help a small business keep its doors open or grow its revenues and expand. The customers who lend to the owners via the platform feel included when they help keep a business open or grow one that they love, and the business owner feels thankful to know that the customers appreciate the local community business.  

The Kiva Northwest Arkansas Hub opened in 2019 with the support from the Walton Family Foundation and has helped many types of small businesses, from an artisan bakery to a hair salon to a car detailing service to a local driving academy, access a Kiva loan. The wide range of business owners who have been fully funded via the Kiva initiative includes a diverse group of women, LatinX, Hispanic, LGBTQIA+, Asian, physically challenged and Black-Owned entrepreneurs. Kiva’s mission is to serve historically disadvantaged US entrepreneurs with access to much-needed business loan funds. Despite the many grant programs, PPP loan programs, and corporate initiatives launched during the pandemic to help keep small businesses open, there remains an uphill battle for access to capital funding for disadvantaged entrepreneurs in the NWA region. Results of a poll released in January of 2021 by Lake Research Partners for the Small Business Majority advocacy group showed that of the 500 small business owners asked, 18 percent of Black and LatinX entrepreneurs still reported that they were likely to permanently close their businesses due to the pandemic, compared to only 14 percent of the white business owners. Thus, the Kiva US microloan program, which expanded greatly during the crisis, will continue to serve disadvantaged entrepreneurs in uncertain times. Further, approved NWA Kiva borrowers can also continue to qualify for a matching loan fund from the Walton Family Foundation. Their loans from the community will have a bigger impact and allow them to fund more quickly. 

Supporting Northwest Arkansas entrepreneurs via the Kiva NWA Hub as a community lender of these 0% interest, no fee, no collateral pledge loans is a great way to show support for the NWA entrepreneur community. When times get hard, it’s always good to see the community rally together, and Kiva loans are one of the best ways to do this for as little as $25 each. Visit for more information about applying as a business borrower and about how to become a Kiva lender!