Jan 24, 2020

Northwest Arkansas Kiva Hub’s First Borrower Gets Fully Funded in First Day

Laura, owner of the Springdale restaurant Bites & Bowls, was the first loan to go live for the newly minted NWA Kiva Hub this week, seeking a loan for $6,000. In less than 24 hours, her loan was fully funded by contributions from the community and the Walton Family Foundation. 

Laura sought her loan for equipment to balance lunchtime rush efficiency and marketing to increase sales during breakfast and spread the word about their listing on Luncher and catering options. 

Throughout her childhood and teenage years in Mexico, Laura’s parents were busy with their business, leaving her with the responsibility of preparing meals for her and her younger siblings. This experience taught her that cooking was her passion. In her early 20s, Laura moved to the United States and learned English. She took culinary classes and began working in the food industry. 

“Since then, I have been working in the food industry in various businesses,” she said. “Since I believe healthy but tasty and creative food has the power to nourish one’s heart and mind, I created Bites & Bowls to provide healthy food to our diverse Northwest Arkansas community. I combine day-to-day authentic Mexican ingredients in American classic recipes to turn ordinary dishes into my original creations.” 

On her borrower profile, Laura described her needs and plans for using the funds: 

“The panini maker ($750) is going to reduce the lunch rush time generated by Luncher sales. One additional waffle maker ($750) will allow us to reduce wait time for our customers and upgrade one of our waffle makers to a higher quality. A street sign ($3,500) on the nearby busy street will increase awareness and visibility of our dine-in restaurant. Our store is located in a nice shopping plaza by a four-lane highway with an average daily traffic of over 20,000 cars; however, our spot is not directly visible to many cars passing by so quickly. We are looking to attract new customers that commute daily by this busy street and a sign will help. Additionally, we would like to advertise with a local marketer Leisurlist ($400) that promotes via its high follower social platforms, to reach over 13,000 viewers and users in Northwest Arkansas each day. Lastly, we will use the remaining requested loan funds to grow our social media presence on our platforms with Facebook and Google Ads for the additional $600 of the loan request.”

The NWA Kiva Hub officially launched at the end beginning of the year, and Laura’s loan was the first to go live. Additional borrower profiles will also soon go live in the coming days and weeks. 

 The program, a partnership with Kiva, an international nonprofit based in San Francisco that connects entrepreneurs and small business owners with local lenders, is made possible through the technical assistance provided by Startup Junkie and funding from the Walton Family Foundation.

Through Kiva Northwest Arkansas, members of the community can sign up to lend money to local entrepreneurs. Loans granted through Kiva are made up of five to 20 initial local contributions of as little as $25 before launching to the national community, where a borrower can access up to $10,000. These loans are offered to those who have difficulty securing traditional loans and are offered at zero percent interest with no fees. The process requires no credit score, collateral pledges or U.S. citizenship documentation. 

The Walton Family Foundation has provided $100,000 in matching funds to Kiva. All borrowers with businesses in Washington or Benton counties will be eligible for a dollar for dollar matching loan to help them meet their funding goal more quickly if their Kiva loan request is approved.

For more information about the local Kiva hub or how to become a borrower or lender, visit www.kiva-nwa.org or contact program director Martha Londagin at Martha@StartupJunkie.org