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Kiva business loans: 2023 review

2023-06-05 18:15:47
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At a glance

Overall Score 4.3
Overview Kiva is not a traditional small business lender. Borrowers use Kiva’s platform to crowdfund for zero-interest microloans. Kiva was founded in 2005, and the Kiva website states that 2.5 million people have raised over $1 billion on the platform.
Loan amount: $1,000 to $15,000
APR: 0 percent
Term lengths: Up to 36 months
Minimum credit score: N/A

Who Kiva is best for

Kiva is an alternative lender that specializes in micro-funding for startups and small businesses. It’s a nonprofit crowdfunding platform dedicated to increasing access to business funding for underserved communities. The company does not list annual revenue, time in business or minimum credit score requirements.

Kiva loans go up to $15,000, so this is an option for smaller enterprises looking to expand or start up. The website showcases people who have used the funding to open or run shoe businesses, small restaurants, rooftop farms and coffee shops. 

Who Kiva may not be best for

Any business that needs access to more funding than $15,000 may want to look elsewhere. Even by microloan standards, it’s a bit low, since SBA microloans can go up to $50,000. This platform may not be the best for larger manufacturers, multi-location enterprises or high-cost businesses like transportation.  

Kiva also uses a peer-to-peer lending model. Borrowers must invite between five and 35 lenders from their own network. If someone does not have personal contacts that are able or willing to lend, then this might not be the best option.

Kiva pros and cons

Below are some pros and cons to Kiva. You can also check out these pros and cons to crowdfunding in general. 


  • Checkmark

    Need to crowdsource your own funding

  • Checkmark

    A way to generate buzz for your business

  • Checkmark

    0% interest and no fees


  • Close X

    Requires a personal guarantee and business assets

  • Close X

    Need to crowdsource your own funding

Kiva microloans

Kiva loans operate like a hybrid of crowdfunding, microlending, and peer-to-peer lending. You fill out the prequalification application, get family and friends to lend to you and then go public on the platform to get funding from other lenders. 

Do you qualify? 

To qualify for Kiva microloans, your business has to be based in the U.S. You have to be over 18 years old, and use the loan for business purposes. While there are no minimum annual revenue, credit score, or time in business requirements, your business cannot be in foreclosure or bankruptcy. Nor can it be under any current liens. Excluded industries include:

  • Illegal activities like gambling or scams
  • Marijuana, CBD or hemp
  • Pure financial investing like stocks
  • Multi-level marketing or direct sales 

Kiva microloans cannot be used to refinance current debts or purchase stock or equity.

What we like and what we don’t like

Like any lending option, there are some good points and some points that might not work for all situations. 

What we like  

  • Low approval requirements: As mentioned above, there is no minimum credit score, time in business or annual revenue required for Kiva microloans. This is a solid option for small startups trying to get off the ground.  
  • A way to generate buzz for your business: Since you are working to get funding from other lenders, including friends and family, it can be a good way to get the word out about your new business venture.
  • 0 percent interest and no fees: The 0 percent interest is a massive perk, as even the best startup business loans typically have at least 5 percent interest — and it’s often much higher. No fees is also a perk, as just origination fees can run 1 to 5 percent for other business loan types.  

What we don’t like 

  • Need to crowdsource your own funding: If you’re not in a position where friends or family can or will lend to you, this isn’t the option for you. Some people might also just not like the stress of asking people in their network to lend to them. 
  • Microloans may not be enough funding: These microloans go up to $15,000, which is perfect for smaller ventures just trying to get off the ground or expand a bit. But larger enterprises will likely need to look elsewhere. 

How to apply for a loan with Kiva

Getting a loan with Kiva is a lengthier process than applying for other business loans. You start by filling out the quick online application to see if you’re prequalified. Compared to most lenders, Kiva has low loan documentation requirements.

You then have 15 days to invite friends and family to lend to you. Then you go public on the Kiva platform for up to 30 days. Kiva states your loan is visible to 1.6 million lenders worldwide. 

You then have up to 36 months to repay the loan.  

Required application information

  • Basic financial information, such as name, address, business name and address, and how much you wish to borrow
  • A public profile, including a photo of yourself and your business 
  • A few paragraphs who you are, what your business does and what you will use the loan for  

Kiva FAQs

How Bankrate rates Kiva

Overall Score 4.3
Accessibility 3.7 Though Kiva sets few eligibility requirements, its small maximum amount and long funding timeline ding this score.
Affordability 4.3 Kiva doesn’t charge interest or fees on its loans.
Transparency 5.0 Kiva’s eligibility requirements are clear and minimal.
Customer experience 4.8 Kiva offers an easy online application. However, reaching a live customer service representative could be tricky.
Flexibility 3.8 Kiva only offers one loan product.


To select the top small business lenders, Bankrate considers more than 20 factors. These factors include loan amounts, approval and funding times, credit requirements, APR or factor rate ranges, fees, and easy-to-find rate and fee disclosures. Bankrate reviewed more than 20 lenders and gave each a rating, which consists of five categories:

  • Accessibility: Factors considered in this category include minimum loan amounts, approval and funding speed, minimum annual revenue and minimum credit score.
  • Affordability: This section measures interest or factor rates and fees.
  • Transparency: How easy it is to find important rates, fees and eligibility requirements are considered in this category.
  • Customer experience: Customer service hours, online applications and app availability are considered in this category.
  • Flexibility: This category considers factors like the number of loan products and ability to change payment due date.

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the lender’s website for the most current information.

Written by
Michelle Honeyager
Contributing writer

Michelle Honeyager is a freelance writer for Bankrate. She has had bylines appear in US News, CNET and other financial publications. She has a passion for helping people make the best financial decisions possible.

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