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Kiva Business Loans: 2024 Review

Updated Dec 04, 2023

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At a glance

4.3
Rating: 4.3 stars out of 5
Bankrate Score
Caret Down
Accessibility
Rating: 3.7 stars out of 5
Affordability
Rating: 4.3 stars out of 5
Customer experience
Rating: 4.8 stars out of 5
Transparency
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Flexibility
Rating: 3.8 stars out of 5
How Bankrate Scores work Arrow Down

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 4.8 million people have raised nearly $2 billion on the platform.

Lender Details

  • Moneybag

    Loan amount

    $1,000-$15,000

  • Rates

    Interest rate

    N/A

  • Clock Wait

    Term lengths

    Up to 36 months

  • Dollar

    Min. annual revenue

    N/A

  • Business

    Min. time in business

    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 require a minimum annual revenue, time in business or credit score.

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 during the private funding period. If someone does not have personal contacts that are able or willing to lend, then this might not be the best option.

Kiva: in the details

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. 

Pros

  • Checkmark

    A way to generate buzz for your business

  • Checkmark

    0% APR and no fees

  • Checkmark

    Can build business credit

Cons

  • Requires personal guarantee and business assets

  • Need to crowdsource your own funding

Business loan types offered

Loan quick facts

  • Amounts: $1,000 to $15,000
  • Terms: Up to 36 months
  • APR: 0%

Kiva microloan overview

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  during a 15-day private funding period. Once the period is over, you can 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. Kiva microloans cannot be used to refinance current debts or purchase stock or equity. 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 

What we like and what we don’t like

Like any lending option, there are some good points and some drawbacks that might not make it ideal for all situations. 

What we like   

  • A way to generate buzz for your business: You have to work to get funding from individuals, including friends and family. It can be a good way to get the word out about your new business venture.
  • 0 percent APR and no fees: The 0 percent APR is a massive perk, as even the best startup business loans typically have at least 5 percent interest — or often much higher. No fees are also a perk since origination fees alone can run from 1 to 5 percent for other business loans.  
  • Can build business credit. You can choose to have your loan activity reported to Experian and Dun & Bradstreet. You can even opt out of having your activity reported.

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 trying to get off the ground or expand a bit. But larger enterprises may need to look elsewhere. 

How Kiva compares to other lenders

Unlike traditional lenders, Kiva operates as a crowdfunding platform, connecting individuals to entrepreneurs in need of loans for various business purposes. It offers interest-free loans ranging from $1,000 to $15,000 with a term of up to 36 months. Kiva's approach relies on support from contributors who want to support entrepreneurs by donating funds to their projects or businesses.   

While this provides a more personalized and community-driven experience, some entrepreneurs may prefer more traditional small business lending

Rating: 4.3 stars out of 5
4.3

Bankrate Score

  • Loan amount

    $1,000-$15,000

  • Interest rate

    N/A

  • Term lengths

    Up to 36 months

  • Min. time in business

    N/A

  • Min. business annual revenue

    N/A

Rating: 4.2 stars out of 5
4.2

Bankrate Score

  • Loan amount

    $5,000-$250,000

  • Interest rate

    From 7.49% Simple interest

  • Term lengths

    12, 24, 36, or 60 months

  • Min. time in business

    N/A

  • Min. business annual revenue

    Not stated

Rating: 4.7 stars out of 5
4.7

Bankrate Score

  • Loan amount

    $5,000-$10 million

  • Interest rate

    0.75% Monthly rate | 5.00% to 18% Simple interest

  • Term lengths

    1-10 years

  • Min. time in business

    6 months

  • Min. business annual revenue

    $100,000

Read our review

on Bankrate

Kiva vs. Accion Opportunity Fund

Businesses seeking long-term borrowing and higher loan amounts may find a business loan from Accion Opportunity Fund (AOF) is the better fit. While Kiva provides loans of $1,000 to $15,000 with terms of up to 36 months, AOF's Progress Loan offers greater flexibility. AOF borrowing limits range from $5,000 to $250,000, with terms ranging from 12 to 60 months. The lender also provides coaching services to support and empower local entrepreneurs.

Keep in mind Kiva operates as a mix of crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending and microlending. Businesses must do a bit more work to raise funds. But, AOF has a simple application that can be completed online or via phone. 

AOF charges APRs between 7.49 percent and 24.99 percent, which helps if you don't need a lot of funds and want to keep borrowing costs low. In that case, Kiva's interest-free loans could be ideal. 

Kiva vs. Fundible

Either Kiva or Fundible could work for businesses with less-than-perfect credit. But the two have very different loan types, loan amounts and terms. 

Kiva gives borrowers access to interest-free loans between $1,000 and $15,000. The loan terms are limited to a maximum of 36 months. Fundible offers a variety of loans, including term loans, business lines of credit, equipment financing and SBA loans. Its loan amounts run between $5,000 and $10 million. And its loan terms range from one year to 10 years, so long-term financing is an option. 

Fundible only requires an application and certain business and/or personal documentation. Kiva's model requires borrowers to fundraise and promote their business to attract lenders.

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’ll need to prepare your public profile on Kiva, which includes a photo of you and your business and a description of your business. 

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 about who you are, what your business does and what you will use the loan for  

Kiva frequently asked questions

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.

Methodology

Clock Wait
47
years in business
Credit Card Search
30+
lenders reviewed
Loan
22
loan features weighed
Rates
770+
data points collected

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 30 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 Bankrate.com 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.