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NewBoCo partners with California startup ‘Kiva’ to launch statewide microlending platform

Cedar Rapids nonprofit NewBoCo is teaming up with Kiva US to launch a statewide hub called Kiva Iowa. The new program aims to help underserved entrepreneurs and small business owners in the state gain access to much-needed capital. 

San Francisco nonprofit Kiva US offers access to a platform for small loans—with zero-percent interest, extended-grace periods and zero fees—to businesses and individuals that can have difficulty obtaining loans from traditional lenders.

The loans can range from $1,000 to $15,000 and lenders can give as little as $25 at a time, according to the Kiva Iowa website. Iowa is the first to serve as a statewide hub partner.

Since starting in 2005, Kiva has lent out more than $1.6 billion to nearly 4 million borrowers.

Once started, Kiva’s fundraising process takes 1-45 days. Kiva US borrowers have a greater than 95% chance of being fully funded.

NewBoCo’s Kaitlin Byers will be Capital Access Manager for the new program. NewBoCo is currently seeking a Director of Development to fill Byers’ previous role.

“Kiva microloans can be a game changer for entrepreneurs who face barriers to accessing traditional means of capital,” said Byers in a release. “With this holistic and accessible model for lending, we are eager to help set underrepresented business owners on the path to financial success.” 

NewBoCo partners with California startup 'Kiva' to launch statewide microlending platform | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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