Golf ball image via Pexels user Thomas Ward
Written by Breanna Hardy
The Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce has allowed several businesses to crowdfund 0% interest loans, helping minority-owned businesses successfully launch. But since the chamber funds the platform out of pocket, it’s raising money to keep it.
The Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce will hold its first annual golf tournament to raise $65,000 for the crowdfunding platform.
Kiva, the microfinance company, has been responsible for giving underserved communities access to capital. The company is geared toward entrepreneurs looking to fund their businesses. The company was founded in 2005 and is headquartered in San Francisco.
Rick Keyes, capital access manager for the chamber’s Kiva hub, said the platform offers stability for business owners — but it comes at a cost.
“We pay for that platform. There’s no profit in any part of Kiva. We don’t make money from this platform. We got it because we can help people,” he said.
Entrepreneurs join the platform as a borrower, and donors can give as little as $25 and can expect to be repaid when the fundraising phase is complete, based on the repayment schedule.
Some of the businesses on the Kiva platform couldn’t qualify for a traditional loan because of lack of credit or collateral.
Keyes coaches entrepreneurs on how to get businesses off the ground and maximize output.
“Many times, what we witness is people are doing things because they feel right about it, and you don’t run a business on feelings. You have to look at the numbers,” he said.
“We also have situations where people are reluctant to take out a loan because of the thought of debt — they don’t understand how it can work in their favor,” he added. “If you look at any big business, they use other people’s money.”
Keyes said the chamber is in a fundraising phase so that the platform can stick around for the long haul. The fundraiser launched July 1 and is accepting sponsorships for the golf tournament scheduled for Oct. 15. Early registration ends July 29.
Alexis Newlin was on the receiving end of the fundraising for her tour guide business, Authentic Adventures.
Newlin previously worked in the medical field as a recreational therapist, but when her job changed course during the pandemic, she decided to start her own tour guide business for those who want to explore the mountains.
She went full time with her business earlier this year. Newlin started out with solo trips camping and hiking in the mountains — something she’s loved ever since she moved to the Central Valley for college.
After sampling trips with her friends and her church, many people encouraged her to turn her skills into a business.
“I love to travel and I love to take people out and show them all the cool things we have outdoors that are just right in our backyard,” Newlin said.
Afraid of taking on debt, she used much of her own savings. She was encouraged to use Kiva to raise money.
“It’s been great because it’s allowed me to get some advertising for my business,” Newlin said.
She takes people out on tours in her van and wanted to get it wrapped with her business information.
“It’s crowdfunded, so it’s nice to see all the people that support you, even if they don’t know you,” she said.
She said it’s also a great way to practice asking for money, which a lot of people feel odd doing. Practicing pitching, building funds, explaining your business and getting exposure are some of the benefits of being a borrower on Kiva.
Eric Colvin, founder of UltroSport, has been operating his business for eight years and was introduced to Keyes in the last year. His pursuit of entrepreneurship came out of a desire to retire healthy and free of debt.
He reached out to the chamber and was introduced to Keyes, who recommended he try out the Kiva platform.
“I was comfortable and confident that it was a good direction to go, especially being an interest-free crowdfunded approach,” Colvin said.
He found it motivating that so many people believed in and supported his vision for his business.
Colvin set a goal to raise a few hundred dollars in a week but beat his goal by raising the money in 48 hours.
Colvin explained that many people in the middle class don’t always have the resources to “let your money make money.”
“I felt like I was given a valid and fair opportunity to receive funding,” he said. “The perception is there’s not always a level playing field. That’s kind of the unfortunate reality for a lot of people,” he said.
If you go:
Kiva Golf Tournament
Draognfly Golf Course, Madera
Oct. 15, 7 a.m.
Register, sponsor or donate at fmbcc.com/kivagolf