Petersburg Pilot -


Economic development council promotes crowd funding


Matt Lichtenstein, recent KFSK news director and now full-time troller fisherman, just earned $5000 in crowd funding after the Petersburg Economic Development Council (PEDC) implemented a new program earlier this month.

PEDC partnered with the international non-profit Kiva Zip to offer a micro-financing option for local entrepreneurs and small businesses.

“In our case, PEDC acts as a trustee for Kiva Zip so we’re kind of their on the ground person and we endorse a borrower,” said Liz Cabrera, PEDC director.

Lichtenstein announced his intentions to leave KFSK late last fall in order to pursue commercial fishing, which made him a great choice for the program.

Lichtenstein created a profile on Kiva Zip’s website where potential lenders who are interested in funding entrepreneurs review proposals. On his profile, he stated the money would go towards safety and efficiency upgrades to his boat—the F/V Aurora.

Within a couple weeks he had more than a hundred lenders, most of them out of state and some from other countries.

“I was really amazed,” Lichtenstein said. “There were donations form Switzerland, Germany, the Philippines, Japan…”

He made his $5,000 goal in two weeks. The money is loaned at zero percent interest for up to two years.

The PEDC is currently accepting applications for anyone in the borough who is interested in a new business venture.

“If we feel like it’s a good idea and there’s a good likelihood that they’ll be able to pay that money back then we’ll send their name to Kiva Zip,” Cabrera said.

Applicants then must provide financial statements and other information for Kiva Zip. Applicants must make less than $100,000 a year, not be in default with an existing loan and have good credit with some other parameters.

“I think it’s a really great opportunity for small business people to get advanced capital especially for fishermen early in the season,” Lichtenstein said.

Kiva Zip has raised more than $250,000 in loans since its launch in 2005.


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