Once found only in developing world, microfinance takes root in Michigan

Jun 24, 2013

The Kiva online platform allows entrepreneurs like Marcus Bieth of Flint to connect with community lenders for zero interest loans.
Credit Courtesy of Marcus Bieth

The concept of microfinance -- essentially small loans given to entrepreneurs who are too little or too under-funded to qualify for traditional bank loans -- has exploded in the developing world. 

One of the leading online platforms for microfinance is called Kiva, which connects entrepreneurs with interest-free loans offered by community members. About two years ago, with the help of Michigan Corps, a Detroit-based non-profit organization, Kiva became the first microfinance effort in the United States. Last month, Michigan Corps expanded Kiva’s platform into Flint.

Elizabeth Garlow, the executive director of Michigan Corps, and Marcus Bieth, the founder of Mark 3 Graphic Design, one of first businesses to take part in Kiva’s Flint project, explain how microlending in Michigan works.