A new micro-lending initiative based in Little Rock will bring together three organizations along with support from former President Bill Clinton.

On Friday afternoon, Clinton helped kick off the Kiva City Little Rock initiative, which aims to expand the availability of microloans for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs in central Arkansas.

The program reaches underserved borrowers by “crowdfunding” loans – where online investors may make small investments – to support existing and start-up businesses. The loans can be as little as $25.

Through the web site, kiva.org/littlerock, more information is available.

The initiative is a partnership between non-profit micro-loan provider Kiva, credit card behemoth Visa, Inc., and Accion Texas, a non-profit micro-loan group that has operations in Arkansas.

Accion President and CEO Janie Barrera was in Little Rock to launch the initiative. She is our guest on this week’s edition of Talk Business Arkansas, which airs Sunday night at 10pm on Fox 16. Her interview can be viewed below.

“When small businesses do well, local and national economies do well — local jobs are created and communities are strengthened,” said Barrera. “The small business owners and future entrepreneurs we work with have all the elements of success except access to capital and training to grow their business and realize their dreams. The Accion Texas partnership with Kiva City Little Rock will enable us to substantially expand our efforts in the Little Rock area.

The Kiva City Initiative, a partnership between Kiva and Visa Inc. was launched at the Clinton Global Initiative America meeting in June 2011.

“Successful small business owners in Little Rock and across the country have the power to accelerate job growth and economic opportunity for all of us,” said Clinton. “They have the plan and the passion, and this commitment to action will provide the much-needed capital to start or expand.”

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