Kiva Zip in Action

Here at Kiva Zip, we are suckers for a good success story. One of the issues we grapple with on a daily basis are how to get our borrowers fully funded. Seeing an loan expire is never a great feeling and disappointing for all. One strategy we implemented starting in the beginning this year was to require borrowers to invite at least 15 lenders from their own network of family, friends, colleagues, etc in the period of 15 days before we show them to our community of lenders. This way, borrowers come out of the gates with a head start.

We've seen a good deal of borrowers who have successfully gotten their networks involved, and one of our favorite stories is that of James and Jeffrey Atto. The two brothers own Atto and Sons in Birmingham, Michigan where they manufacture and distribute wholesome, healthful, textural, and delicious supplementary foods from 50 year-old recipes passed down by their grandfather. Their products include Torshi (curried pickled vegetables), roasted lentils and fresh vegetable relish.

James and Jeffrey applied for a $5,000 Kiva loan in order to pay for packaging and marketing materials as well as production equipment and licensing.
"We were checking our profile every few hours and it kept growing and growing. We were asking ourselves, who is loaning all this money?" James laughed.

Within 15 days and without having to leave their private funding raising period, James and Jeffrey had raised the full $5,000 with only 15 people having lent the entire amount. "We very surprised and honored that our loan was fulfilled so quickly," James said. They had been promoting the loan in emails to family and friends as well as linked their Kiva Zip page on their company's Facebook.

Not only was is a great start for the Atto brothers, it was a great reminder to the Zip team how awesome our borrowers on Kiva Zip are and that with the Kiva Zip platform and easy marketing and support, business owners and entrepreneurs can really thrive. It was also great proof of our amazing lender base. Seeing so many people rally around a business owner is a confirmation of what we call "social underwriting" - looking to a borrower's network to vouch for their character.

Advice James has for current and future borrowers is to make your pitch personal and to clearly identify your mission so that it can resonate with others. "Reach out to people and make it personal, not just a mass text or email. Talk about your story and your cause. Some people may not even be aware of your company," James said. He added that some people reached out to them and said they weren't even aware they had started a company and wanted to donate.

You can find them and learn more on their Facebook.

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Posted by Regina Sarnicola, Kiva Zip Product Intern

Dec 19, 2014

After graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbara as a Communication major, Regina first heard of Kiva while working her first big girl job at Yelp and couldn't stop thinking about it!

She recently left Yelp after almost two years as an Account Executive. From that experience, she brought her interest and passion for working with local communities and business owners to Kiva where, as the newest Product Intern, she is learning a lot by wearing a bunch of different hats.

With a Journalism background, Regina has held multiple Opinion Editor positions, competed in both state and national competitions, and freelanced on the side preferring to write about people and their powerful stories.

She is a proud Italian, avid reader, dedicated soccer player and classical music enthusiast.

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