In April, Seed Capital Kentucky was invited to become a Kiva Zip Trustee by Kiva Zip fellow, David Taliaferro. As a trustee, Seed Capital’s responsibility is to endorse borrowers with whom we have a relationship for loans on the platform. Really, we are vouching for the borrower’s character and stating that we believe their project has social benefit. We are also agreeing to help get the word out about the loan by engaging our communication outlets, like our website and social media channels. Kiva Zip is an online microlending program that uses the power of crowdfunding to raise money to support businesses that might otherwise have limited access to capital. It leverages the networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular community. Kiva Zip launched as a pilot Nov 2011, and entered its alpha phase in September 2012. Since then, it has distributed over $2,952,875 in loans. Seed Capital Kentucky has endorsed three loans since April. All of the borrowers are farmers with whom we have had a relationship for some time. The first loan was for Adam Barr/Barr Farms. Adam borrowed $8000 to build a packing shed. His loan went live on April 24, and was fully funded in about 6 days. Ben Abell/RootboundFarm was the second loan. His $10,000 loan was fully funded in about 2 and a half weeks. For these 2 loans, there were almost 300 lenders from all across the US, Canada, Europe, even as far away as Malaysia and Taiwan! We endorsed our third loan last week. The borrower is Michelle Howell/Need More Acres Farm. Michelle and her husband, Nathan, have a farm in Western Kentucky and are adding value added processing capacity to their operation to create some shelf-stable foods that can be available when food is otherwise out of season. The value-added processing also gives farmers a way to make use of seconds or otherwise un-sellable fruits and veggies from their fields, so they can harvest their entire crop and make use of all of it, resulting in higher income for the farmer. As of this writing, their $10,000 loan is already 67% funded, with loans from 174 lenders from across the US, into Europe and even one from Kuala Lumpur. It is amazing to watch the power of social media in funding these loans. Seed Capital Kentucky has also recently been notified that we have been upgraded from a “pilot” trustee to a “first tier” trustee, which means we can now endorse up to 10 loans! Kiva Zip did this because our borrowers are farmers, and farmers have so far proven to be really great borrowers on the Kiva Zip platform. We already have several in the pipeline to go live in the next month or so. This is such a great program for farmers, and a very easy way for Seed Capital to support the regional farmers who grow food for us.