Nonprofit Group Helps Link Immigrants With Lenders To Start Businesses

By Danae King
The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Meet Lily Vail, the project lead of “Kiva Columbus”, a nonprofit lending platform. The national platform uses crowdfunding to provide zero-interest loans to small businesses.

The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

When Mon Phuyel heard Lily Vail speak to the Bhutanese-Nepali Community of Columbus in March, the entrepreneur was interested in getting her help to make his newest business dream a reality.

Phuyel, 30, was born in Bhutan and grew up in Nepal. He came to the United States in 2010 and since has opened a business in northeast Ohio with a friend.

With their first restaurant up and running, Phuyel came to Columbus to start another one.

Thus was born Kitchen Sports Bar in Blacklick, but not without some help from Vail, who is the project lead of Kiva Columbus, a nonprofit lending platform.

Phuyel and his partner had borrowed from other organizations before, but were drawn to Kiva for its zero-interest loans, he said.

“We used to get a loan, but we paid big interest,” he said.

Phuyel borrowed $7,000 to update the floors of his bar and put a roof on the patio.

“I want to make this floor look beautiful,” he said, gesturing to the stone floor. “This doesn’t look welcoming to people.”

The national platform uses crowdfunding to provide zero-interest loans to small businesses. Its mission is to decrease poverty.

Lenders choose to support small businesses with a similar ideology or cause, such as an anti-poverty focus or a female-owned business, or as a tangible way to support their local economy, Vail said.

For example, one local lender’s profile says he loans because he feels good when helping others achieve the success he has. Another said she does it because it’s fun and easy. Still another does it to support businesses he believes will have a good impact on the community and the world.

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