New Norwalk partnership offers crowdfunded loans to local entrepreneurs –

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Norwalk has partnered with the nonprofit Kiva to offer interest-free loans up to $15,000 to local entrepreneurs and business owners,
NORWALK — The city has launched a new partnership to offer local residents and entrepreneurs interest-free crowdfunded loans, striving to offer “an alternative way to access capital” for those in need, according to Mayor Harry Rilling.
The Norwalk Kiva Hub, created in conjunction with the global nonprofit Kiva, allow residents to seek loans of $1,000 to $15,000, Rilling’s office said in a news release.
The city will also match up to 50 percent of loans received by women and minority-owned businesses, or $7,500. Officials also announced that a Norwalk Kiva Hub office had been opened at 3 Belden Ave., “where entrepreneurs can get direct assistance with their businesses.”
“Small businesses are the economic engine of our city and add to Norwalk’s incredible vibrancy,” Rilling said in a statement. “They employ hardworking people and we are always looking for new ways to help our small business community succeed. Through Norwalk’s new partnership with Kiva, many entrepreneurs and small business owners will have an alternative way to access capital and new local resources to help them start, operate and expand their businesses.”
The effort was funded in part by a $15,000 grant from the National League of Cities, the mayor’s office said.
Those interested can help support such grants in Norwalk and beyond through the Kiva partnership by supporting a venture with a loan of $25 or more, officials said.
“Entrepreneurs apply directly to Kiva’s U.S. site to fundraise on the platform and are connected to millions of Kiva lenders. It also enables local lenders to make direct loans to entrepreneurs in their neighborhoods,” the mayor’s office said. “Kiva’s network of microlenders creates the first step for small businesses to move up the capital ladder.”
The Kiva partnership will span a minimum of three years, officials said, and will be in addition to the other programs the city offers, including the Storefront Improvement Grant Program, COVID-19 Assistance Grants, the Norwalk Microgrant Program and the Enterprise Zone tax benefit for manufacturers.
Ben Lambert covers police and public safety for the Register. A graduate of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, he has worked on the behalf of the Valley Advocate, MassLive, The Register Citizen, and now, the New Haven Register. He spends far too much time thinking about the Boston Celtics.


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