LEAP adds crowdfunding to startup services

LANSING — The Lansing Economic Area Partnership, the business attraction and retention organization for the state’s capital region, announced a new initiative called Fund Lansing that will use a global online crowd-funding platform called Kiva to increase funding for small business owners.

Under the program, eligible business owners can apply for zero-interest loans from $500 to $10,000. Loan applications are reviewed, and approved applications move into a private fundraising phase, with applicants asked to invite 20 to 25 individuals from their personal networks to be lenders.

Following that private fundraising period, the loan goes public on the Kiva website, where it becomes available to hundreds of thousands of funders from around the world.

Once the business owner’s funding goals are met, funds are distributed, and repayment begins the following month.

“Adequate funding is a significant barrier for many of our regional entrepreneurs,” said Tony Willis, director of LEAP’s new economy division. “It’s one thing to get your idea molded and positioned for market, but without funding, even the best ideas can stall. Fund Lansing is meant to fill that gap, and the Kiva platform will open the doors to funding both within the region and from around the world.

LEAP is an approved trustee with an executed agreement with Kiva. LEAP will assist with the application process, provide business advice, and assist in marketing private funding campaigns.

While Fund Lansing is available to entrepreneurs across the three-county region, the city of Lansing is taking the program a step further to offer even more funding. With LEAP’s help, the the Lansing Economic Development Corp. has extended the Kiva funding opportunity to eligible Lansing small businesses by matching loan funds raised by Kiva dollar for dollar.

“Fund Lansing is a great opportunity for small businesses in the region, and it’s outstanding to see such an enthusiastic reception right out of the gate,” said Bob Trezise, President and CEO of LEAP. “I want to congratulate and thank Mayor Schor for his visionary approach to capitalizing on this opportunity to further expand the program for Lansing businesses. We of course welcome additional proposals for creative implementations of Fund Lansing, and are looking forward to seeing this program grow.”

Additional information, including eligibility requirements, and application directions can be found at www.purelansing.com.

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