Crowdfunding has become the fuel for many a startup, and now women entrepreneurs in New York City have their own crowdfunding program to help them build their businesses.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Wednesday that the city has partnered with Kiva.org to launch “WE Fund: Crowd,” described as “a first-of-its-kind city-led crowdfunding program to help women entrepreneurs access affordable capital and start businesses in New York City.”
Through Kiva, which is a not-for-profit crowdfunding platform, female entrepreneurs can apply for crowdfunded loans of up to $10,000. The city will contribute the first 10 percent of their goal, up to $1,000.
“Leveling the playing field for women entrepreneurs will help grow and diversify our economy, and strengthen our families and neighborhoods,” de Blasio said in a statement. “With Kiva, we will help launch small businesses that might otherwise never get off the ground.”
About half of women who start businesses in New York City are looking for less than $10,000 to start them, officials said, but some traditional financial options are often not available in small amounts, and other options usually have high interest rates.
“Seventy percent of women entrepreneurs in New York City cite access to capital as a major challenge as they launch and grow companies,” according to the mayor’s office.
The program plans to reach at least 500 businesses over three years, with the city pledging more than $3 million in loans. That money will be provided through a zero-interest loan and will be confirmed when the entrepreneur reaches their full fundraising goal.
“Connecting women entrepreneurs directly to investors gives them access to seed money they need to open stores, restaurants and fashion companies in neighborhoods across New York City,” said Alicia Glen, deputy mayor for housing and economic development, in a statement. “As we continue to focus on stabilizing communities, growing jobs and supporting women in business, this collaboration with Kiva.org is simple and smart.”
The program is part of the WE NYC, a women’s entrepreneurship initiative created by the city’s Department of Small Business Services. Women interested in the program can visit we.nyc.