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New LEAP Funding Program Will Leverage Crowd Lending to Help Fund Regional Small Business Startups

Monday, February 12, 2018  
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The Lansing Economic Area Partnership is taking further action toward increasing funding opportunities for regional entrepreneurs. On the heels of awarding $15,000 in entrepreneurial support grants last week, LEAP has launched a new funding initiative called Fund Lansing, which will leverage a global online crowd-funding platform called Kiva, to increase funding for small business owners across the region.

“Adequate funding is a significant barrier for many of our regional entrepreneurs. It’s one thing to get your idea molded and positioned for market, but without funding, even the best ideas can stall,” said Tony Willis, Director of LEAP’s New Economy Division. “Fund Lansing is meant to fill that gap, and the Kiva platform will open the doors to funding both within the region and from around the world.”

The Kiva lending system leverages private loans and crowd-funding to fund ideas. LEAP is an approved trustee with an executed agreement between the two organizations. LEAP will assist with the application process, provide business advice, and assist in marketing private funding campaigns.

Here’s’ how it works:

1. Within the Kiva platform, eligible borrowers can apply for 0% interest loans from $500-$10,000. 
2. Loan applications are reviewed, and approved applications then move into a private fundraising phase, when applicants are asked to invite 20-25 individuals within their personal networks to be first lenders. 
3. Following the private fundraising period, the loan goes public on the Kiva website when it becomes available to hundreds of thousands of funders from all over the world. 
4. Once the funding goals are met, funds are distributed and repayment begins the following month. 

While Fund Lansing is a program available to eligible entrepreneurs across the three-county region, at least one local municipality is taking the program a step further to offer even more funding. With LEAP’s help, the City of Lansing, through the Lansing Economic Development Corporation (LEDC), has chosen to extend the Kiva funding opportunity to eligible Lansing small businesses by matching loan funds raised by Kiva dollar for dollar.

“Fund Lansing is a great opportunity for small businesses in the region, and it’s outstanding to see such an enthusiastic reception right out of the gate,” said Bob Trezise, President and CEO of LEAP. “I want to congratulate and thank Mayor Schor for his visionary approach to capitalizing on this opportunity to further expand the program for Lansing businesses. We of course welcome additional proposals for creative implementations of Fund Lansing, and are looking forward to seeing this program grow.”

Additional information, including eligibility requirements, and application directions can be found on the LEAP website.


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