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Press Release from the Offices of:
City Attorney Barbara Parker &
City Councilmember Libby Schaaf


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Oakland small businesses receive loans through crowdfunding initiative

City Attorney Parker & City Councilmember Schaaf announce results of partnership with global microlending organization Kiva

Oakland, CA – On Wednesday, April 2, City Attorney Barbara Parker, City Councilmember Libby Schaaf and officials from the City’s Department of Economic & Workforce Development announced initial results of the City’s partnership with global microlending organization Kiva.org.

At a press conference at OwlNWood clothing store on Grand Avenue, officials announced that three local businesses are receiving “crowdfunded” loans through the City’s partnership with Kiva.org. The businesses are OwlNWood, Pollinate Farm & Garden in the Fruitvale district and Loakal Art Gallery & Boutique near Jack London Square.

Last May, the City Council approved a resolution sponsored by Parker and Schaaf making Oakland the first U.S. city to partner with Kiva.org through the nonprofit’s Kiva Zip program, which provides zero-interest “crowdfunded” loans to local small businesses.

“Microlending has worked around the world to empower and create jobs and economic opportunity for small entrepreneurs and the communities they serve,” City Attorney Parker said. “Oakland has extraordinary momentum and energy, and one of the main reasons for that momentum is small, local entrepreneurs. Just a few well-placed loans can spur tremendous economic growth in Oakland neighborhoods.”

Through the Kiva Zip program, anyone with an internet connection can make a microloan of $5 or more to a business endorsed by the City of Oakland. The City endorses business to participate in the program, but does not guarantee the loans.

A spokesperson for Kiva.org and owners of businesses endorsed by the City also spoke at Wednesday’s press conference. Councilmember Schaaf demonstrated how to use the Kiva website by making a $50 loan using a smart phone.

“Kiva’s innovative model has helped countless small businesses and communities around the world,” Schaaf said. “Anyone who wants to support local businesses and contribute to Oakland’s economic recovery can do so for a loan as small as $5.”

OwlNWood is still accepting loans with the goal of raising $5,000.

Officials also announced that as the initial borrowers pay back their loans, the City will endorse additional businesses to receive crowdfunded loans.