Kentucky, Minus the Fried Chicken

Luke, owner of Groce Family Farm

In November 2014, Kiva City Louisville launched with an event at Honest Home, borrower Sandra's beautiful sustainable home supplies store, that was attended by Mayor Greg Fischer and other supporters of innovative approaches to economic development. In November 2015, we funded our 50th local loan, bringing the grand total of Kiva’s impact in this community to date to $273,825. Not one dollar went to tobacco, because our new cash crops are ingenuity and hustle. 

Luke, a farmer, was Louisville’s first Kiva Zip borrower in February 2014. He used his $4,400 loan to buy a tractor and—squee!—20 piglets. But entrepreneurs have no time for sentimentality; Luke declared on his loan page, “We expect that the purchase of these piglets will allow us to begin to diversify our farm beyond seasonal produce, and also bring about increased cash flow during the colder months… We also expect to enjoy some delicious bacon.” Today, 5 years into his business and almost 2 years into his Kiva loan, Groce Family Farm is thriving and providing pork to acclaimed restaurants around town. Take a closer look.

In the 49 local Kiva loans since then, we’ve touched entrepreneurs in nearly every corner of the city, plus some small business owners throughout Kentucky and Southern Indiana. We’ve helped local visionaries buy everything from a beer fermenter to a butterfly flight house, from salon chairs to salt and pepper shakers, from DJ equipment to a drive-through window. Half of borrowers are women and close to half are people of color. As a Fellow, I’m lucky to meet each and every one of them in person and to contribute in a small way to their growth story. 

Deleskia, owner of Distinctive Workout Boutique

When Deleskia’s hip hop spin gym and Chad’s hemp foods brand are both successfully fundraising at the same time, Kentucky can be proud of the diversity of entrepreneurs and ideas that are thriving here. We’re more than fried chicken and bourbon. 

Up next: funding the 7 incredible small businesses that are fundraising now. It might be my favorite slate ever: concussion-reducing football helmet technology next to sustainably produced little black dresses next to historically-accurate leatherwork for reenactment buffs next to a new tax preparation service started by Trudy, a former mail carrier who lost her hand to cancer last summer and inspires everyone she meets with her resilience. Now don’t you wish you were here?

Photos courtesy of Tim Harris

About the author

Josie Raymond

Josie is an 8th-generation Kentuckian on both sides of her family, and proud to return to her hometown of Louisville to help create opportunities for people in poverty. Since using education to overcome poverty herself, she has been dedicated personally and professionally to its eradication. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Columbia University and became a journalist focused on issues of domestic poverty. Vexed by stories of educational inequity, she joined Teach For America and taught creative writing and reading at middle schools in Indianapolis. From there, she moved to Oakland, CA to lead the academic department of a nonprofit called College Track that prepares low-income high school students of color to be the first in their families to go to and graduate from college. She is eager to join Kiva Zip in combating poverty in America by bolstering the chances of budding entrepreneurs.