Special city committee gives more than $1 million in microloans to small businesses

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - When starting a business, every dollar counts; at times it's tough raising all the money. But a partnership between the city and the private sector is changing that.

Monica Malik knows this. Her Chicago-inspired Italian beef sandwiches are a hit.

“I put it in the au jus for about 10 to 15 seconds,” she said.

Since opening "Mo's Italian Spot" in May, she has sold 1500 of them.

Her husband, Raheem, deals with the customers.

“We are here, we are trying to carve our niche into the neighborhood,” Raheem Malik said.

However, that nearly wasn't the case a few months ago. They couldn't open because they were $10,000 short.

That's where Councilman Scott Taylor comes in. He oversees the city's Special Committee on Small Business; it's one of kind in the nation.

“If you don't have the necessary capital, you can have a great dream, but you're not going to have a business in the long run,” Taylor said.

The special committee reinstated the microloan program using money left over from a TIF project three years ago.

Aspiring business owners can now apply for microloans ranging from $500 to $50,000 dollars.

“We tried to get it open in a short period of time, and the micro loan did in fact help us get open,” Malik said.

The program has given more than $1.3 million in microloans to mom and pop businesses in Kansas City, Mo.

The owners have up to 72 months to repay. The interest rate for a microloan ranges from 7.75 to 12 percent. Interest rate for a regular loan is 7.73 percent, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.  

Owners like the city's option versus the red tape they face at big-name banks.

“They pretty much understand your situation; they're willing to work with you,” Malik said.

Now the hope is new businesses can revitalize blighted neighborhoods.

“A business can start anywhere in the city and succeed,” Taylor said.

The city wants more members of the private sector to get involved. For every dollar they contribute, the city will match it 10 times.

If you are interested in the program, contact KC BizCare at kcmo.gov/citymanagersoffice/bizcare/ , kcbizcare@kcmo.org or 816-513-2492. To find out more, click here to view the KC Microloan fact sheet

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