What should I do before I apply?

Photo credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters 


So you’ve decided to apply for a Kiva loan!

Here is a guide to help you figure out what to do before you apply and produce the best application possible.


Required steps:

Check if you fit the qualifications. 

See “Is Kiva for me?” for Kiva’s requirements.

Gather your basic financial information. 

Kiva does not just judge your loan on just your credit history, but we do need some financial information, usually a State Filing, an Employer Identification Number (EIN), or a business number. 

Have a business plan. 

A detailed, forward thinking business plan will make your company and loan application stronger. The Centro Business Planning App is a great free business planning app run by a Kiva Trustee. You should also start thinking about how you will repay a loan if you are approved. For more about the repayment plan, click here.

Here is a typical breakdown of repayment terms and amounts:

Loan Amount

Loan term

Monthly Payment































Determine how much money you are applying for. 

Kiva loans up to $10,000 to be paid back over 3 years, but there are several factors that Kiva considers before deciding how much a borrower qualifies for, such as industry, risk, years established, and the quality of application. Keep in mind that the higher the loan, the more lenders you will need during the Private Finance Period.

Here is a general guideline (subject to change on a case by case basis):

Businesses that qualify for $1000:

  • Pre-revenue

  • No online presence

  • Been established for less than 1 year

  • Limited loan description

Businesses that qualify for $2000-$5000:

  • Some revenue

  • Basic online presence

  • Established for 1-3 years

  • Compelling story and loan description

Businesses that qualify for $5000-$10,000:

  • Steady revenue

  • Strong online presence

  • Established for 3+ years

  • Strong references 

Complete your loan profile. 

The loan profile has several parts. For step by step tips on each part, click here.


Optional steps:

Set up a Paypal account. 

Kiva uses exclusively Paypal for monetary exchanges. You do not need one to be approved for a loan, but you will need one if you are approved.

Begin gathering a support network and fundraising. 

If approved, your loan will go through the Private Fundraising Period, and you will need to find people in your network, friends, family, community members, etc, to lend to you. It is always good to think ahead and start talking to people early. It also gives you practice articulating your business and needs. For suggestions on fundraising, click here.

Lend some money to another borrower on Kiva! 

It’s a great way to see how the process works from the opposite side, and you can look at how other profiles are set up and get ideas for your own.


Bonus points that will help you get approved faster:

Be responsive to Kiva. 

The Kiva team will need to contact you several times during the loan approval process. Borrowers who respond quickly to the Kiva’s emails and calls are prioritized and make your approval process faster.

Fully utilize social media. 

Often the borrowers who are quickly approved and funded have a strong online presence. It will presence will show Kiva how strong your business is and attract more lenders. The bigger your social media presence, the better. Have a business website, and use some sites like Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest

Have a strong support network. 

The more people in your network who will support you, the faster you can have your loan posted on the Kiva site. A passionate support network is a good indicator that your business is strong and interesting and that your loan will resonate with lenders on the Kiva site. 


To read more about four aspects Kiva looks at when considering your loan, click here.


About the author

Emily Fockler

Emily is a recent graduate of Princeton University with a major in English Literature. She is a Bay Area native who is happy to be back from the snow and humidity of the East Coast. She is an experienced writer and graphic designer, specifically focused on marketing and publicity. She has always had an interest in exploring and understanding the world and people around her. In her spare time, she reads, writes fiction, spends time with her family and her cats, and runs long distance. She hopes to be an author and a teacher later in her life.