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PORTLAND A crowdfunded loan program popular in Kenya is coming to cities across America, including Portland.

Kiva Zip loans are microfinancing loans that allow people to crowdfund loans directly to small businesses and entrepreneurs. People around the world can lend small amounts of money to be pooled into a larger, interest-free loan.

We support entrepreneurs with a social mission. In addition, we also try to create social impact, said Stasi Baranoff of Kiva Zip.

The loan program was a good fit in Portland, where many small, socially minded businesses are located.

Approximately 20 Portland businesses have applied for a loan so far.

Amy Nieto, the owner of Little Bright Studio, is hoping to start a line of bags with a Kiva Zip loan. Ten percent of her profits will help fund science education in underserved communities.

I thought if I can tie what I love doing with my other passion, which is science, then I can do this, said Nieto.

So far, Nieto has 68 percent of her funding pledged. She hopes to reach her goal by the end of the month.

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