Our Stories

It Takes a Crowd to Raise a Small Business

New to LISC’s partnership with Kiva? Our collaboration with the crowd-funding microloan platform helps us help entrepreneurs get the capital and technical support they need to launch and grow businesses. One of our favorite parts of the relationship is getting to know determined small business owners and hearing their stories. Meet four owners who, armed with their LISC + Kiva loans, are injecting creativity, resources and dynamism into their communities. 

To mark Small Business Week, May 6-10, we are celebrating the entrepreneurs we work with all across the country who are creating jobs, invigorating their local economies and pursuing big visions. And we proudly recognize the efforts of our small business divisions, including immito and LISC's Kiva partnership, that help people transform those visions into reality.

Living4Life Wellness & Nu Sol Bowls, Detroit, MI

Living4Life Wellness sought a $5,000 loan to help fund a social media marketing campaign to increase visibility for his healthy food enterprise—think an artisanal and affordable Chipotle—as it expands across Detroit. The business owner, Doniss, is a Motor City native who would love nothing more than to be part of equitable economic development in his city.

"My goal is to be a thriving community-based business and hub of revitalization," Doniss explained. By using locally-sourced ingredients and resources such as the Kiva platform, the company is well on its way. 

Radical Roots Farm, Canterbury, CT

When Ryan returned from an Army deployment in Afghanistan, he was diagnosed with a host of trauma-related medical problems. He and his wife Alycia resolved to do whatever they could to heal him—including eating healthful, fresh food—and that resolve ultimately led the young family to raise food of their own that could be shared with the larger community. Fast forward three years, and the farm they founded, Radical Roots, is a growing organic enterprise that specializes in raising healthy, disease-resistant cattle that have a beneficial impact on the environment.

A $10,000 LISC + Kiva loan, in conjunction with personal funding, enabled Radical Roots to build a breeding herd of Scottish Highland and endangered Lincoln Red Cattle. As Ryan and Alycia have worked the land and built their business, they've, produced wholesome food and recovered Ryan's health in the bargain.

Editorial Destellos, San Juan, Puerto Rico

A loan of $10,000 is helping Editorial Destellos nurture, produce and publish independent Puerto Rican authors and illustrators who specialize in children's and young adult literature. Editorial Destallos grew from a one-book project into a thriving, small-scale publishing venture that's the first of its kind on the island.

"My work with Editorial Destellos has opened my eyes to the amazing literary and artistic talent here in Puerto Rico," says Laura, the founder and director. "I want to use this publishing house as a vehicle to share their talent with the world through the creation of amazing, enriching books for children and youth."

New Jazz City Beauty and Fashion, Kalamazoo, MI

When Robin, owner of New Jazz City Beauty and Fashion, came to realize that many of her customers preferred shopping online to visiting a brick-and-mortar store, she began thinking outside the box. Or maybe it's inside the box: in 2018, she developed an online portal to provide customers with education on hair and beauty trends through monthly subscription beauty boxes. Since they launched, the beauty boxes have helped her company not only survive, but thrive, in Kalamazoo. A $6,000 Kiva loan will fund website design and inventory as the subscription service grows. 

Robin, who has 30 years' experience in cosmetology, discovered that members of her biological family, whom she hadn't known, also had deep roots in the beauty business. Like those forebears who provided hair dressing and other services that are part of the fabric of a neighborhood, "I wanted to do the same for the community I live in," she said. 

LISC & Kiva partnership has resulted in 213 loans
See more stories from
visit the local office's website
Explore the LISC local offices involved in this story.