Kiva.org has announced the launch of Kiva City Milwaukee, an initiative that brings crowdfunded micro-loans to small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs in Milwaukee and surrounding areas. This initiative is a partnership between Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC) and Kiva. Through Kiva City Milwaukee, anyone can help grow small business and promote local job creation by visiting kiva.org/Milwaukee and choosing an entrepreneur they want to support with a loan of $5 or more. Small business loans crowdfunded through Kiva City Milwaukee average $5,000 and are offered at 0% interest with no fees and available to borrowers who may be rejected by traditional lenders.

Starting on February 17th, a revolving pool of $140,000 will provide a one-to-one match for anyone lending to Milwaukee borrowers from the internet community. Those interested in applying for loans can also visit kiva.org/Milwaukee for more information.

“Ambitious business people are central to Milwaukee’s economic success. They create jobs and value. They add strength to our neighborhoods. That’s why Kiva, in partnership with WWBIC and city government, is so important. It gives small businesses a tool that helps them grow. That, in turn, is great for everyone in Milwaukee,” Mayor Barrett said.

Crowdfunded loans fill a critical lending gap faced by entrepreneurs whose businesses are too young, too small or too innovative to receive loans from traditional lenders. Nationally, small businesses create two-thirds of all new jobs and if just one in three small businesses could hire one more person, the U.S. would be at full employment, according to the Association for Enterprise Opportunity.

“These small business entrepreneurs have all the elements of success. They have the passion and the plan, but lack just a little bit of capital to start up or expand. A single loan, a single business or a single job can help change the trajectory of families, communities, and cities. By lending our support through Kiva City, we can all be a part of their success,” Jonny Price, Kiva’s Senior Director said.

Through their work with WWBIC, Kiva has already brought crowdfunded loans to entrepreneurs across the state. Lenders to entrepreneurs in Wisconsin are everyday people from nearly every state in the U.S. and an astounding 21 countries including Japan, UK, China, Ethiopia, and Rwanda. Kiva City Milwaukee is run through Kiva Zip (www.kivazip.org), Kiva’s U.S.-focused platform.

Outside of Milwaukee, Kiva’s community of 1.4 million lenders have crowdfunded $650 million in loans–$25 at a time–to more than 1.5 million entrepreneurs in 80 countries and 47 U.S. states. The repayment rate is 98%.