Are you a small business owner, struggling to keep your head above water? In these tough economic times it can be hard to balance the books from one month to the next. Thankfully, two new programs have been set up to offer financial help to small businesses get on their feet.

First off is Kiva, named after the word in Swahili language that means ‘unity’. Kiva is a microcredit facility that started in California but was grown in Africa, thus the word Kiva. Kiva Microfunds was founded in 2005 and since then it has grown into a multinational credit institution that has helped hundreds of thousands of people around the world to start their own business through lending. Kiva initially lent capital to small entrepreneurs in East Africa but eventually came to the U.S. to also help budding entrepreneurs realize their dreams of owning a business. Low-income businesspeople are allowed to borrow up to a few thousand dollars to get their small business running and earning.

The microfinance platform works as a middleman in the trading market between the businesspeople and the donors. Donors will select an entrepreneur of his choosing based on the type of small business he is interested in. That means, if the business nature of the entrepreneur attracts a prospective donor, he (the donor) will then give a donation of any amount he could afford ($400 is the average amount) to that entrepreneur. Thus, a lender will have more than one donor for his business project. Essentially, Kiva, acting as an operating platform, never receives nor gives out money to these businesses directly.

The second program is America’s Recovery Capital from U.S. Small Business Association. The program is part of the $700 billion recovery package of the American government. ARC works differently from Kiva and any other loan programs offered by banks and other lending institutions.

The program will grant loans to small businesses not exceeding $35,000 with no interest as it is subsidized fully by the government. The program acts as a third party that can step in and take responsibility for repaying the businesses creditor. The amount given to the lender shall be used for the repayment of the capital and its interest, full on in part, for a period of six months. However, the lenders need to show proof that their business is unable to service the debt themselves in order to qualify for help. Use of the loan for funding other than for the repayment of existing loans is not allowed, which means your business has to meet the eligibility criteria before you can apply for a loan.

A final point for potential applicants to take note of: only established small businesses are qualified to apply for a loan. This means that if your business is a start-up and less than two years old, you might have to look elsewhere to get a loan. The aim of the program is simply to bail out small business from potential bankruptcy.