York partners with micro-lending platform Kiva

Justin Henry//February 18, 2020

York partners with micro-lending platform Kiva

Justin Henry//February 18, 2020

Kiva Capital Access Managers Sharee McFadden and Skyler Yoast have formed a go-between for local startups to access capital investment through Kiva’s global network. – PHOTO/JUSTIN HENRY


The city of York formed a partnership with international lending website Kiva to bring crowd-funded microloans to the city’s start-up and small business community.

Kiva provides zero-interest microloans from $1,000 to $10,000 with a focus on business community populations that have been historically underserved or struggle to access capital investment. Through Kiva’s lending platform, local borrowers would be able to access funds loaned from other York community members and gain exposure to 1.7 million potential customers and investors across the globe.

Rather than assessing the creditworthiness of borrowers based on a credit score like conventional commercial lenders, Kiva qualifies loan applicants based on their “social credit,” an assessment of “character” and “reputation” by peer organizations.

York city officials say the partnership is meant to spur economic growth by making investment and lending opportunities accessible to small business entrepreneurs and underrepresented groups in the businesses community.

“We recognize the need to provide equitable economic opportunities to our women- and minority-owned businesses, as well as new entrepreneurs who live on moderate to low income,” said York Mayor Michael Helfrich at a Tuesday press conference. “Kiva is one of the ways we are addressing this.”

As a Kiva Hub, York assumes responsibility and control over the Kiva loan product and processes for borrowers within the local market by working with a pair of York-based “Capital Access Managers.” York City Eco-System Builder Skyler Yost and Economic Development Specialist Sharee McFadden are York’s Capital Access Managers, who said they form the liaison between the city and Kiva.

“We will be working with borrowers on the back-end of Kiva’s system to ensure that their loan applications meet Kiva’s requirements as closely as possible before they go to Kiva for underwriting,” Yost said.

PNC Bank introduced York’s city officials to Kiva after noticing the success of the Kiva Hub Project in its other regional markets, such as the Baltimore metro region, said Jim Hoehn, regional president of PNC Bank in central Pennsylvania.

Kiva is in its first six months of launching the Kiva Hub strategy to make capital more accessible to small businesses borrowers by partnering Capital Access Managers with city governments, according to Yost. York’s position as the only Kiva Hub in central Pennsylvania as well as the smallest of 18 hubs gives it a pioneering role to set the standard for the program’s ability to be exported to similar small cities, Yost and Hoehn said.

“We know the importance of small business to the region, and one of the challenges for them is access to capital,” Hoehn said.