Jami Thomas, NIIC Grants Compliance Specialist & Kiva-Capital Access Manager (shown on the right)


With 20 years of experience, we know there are times when businesses want to move fast and need prompt access to entrepreneurial resources, including capital investment. Our financial expertise and connections are deep and beneficial to promising ventures. Businesses at The NIIC find initial seed capital from multiple sources, including our funding programs.

Part of our mission is to accelerate the growth and development of your venture by connecting you to accessible seed capital and other investment financial resources. The Kiva Northeast Indiana or LEAP Fund may provide the resources you need to accelerate your venture.

Kiva Northeast Indiana

Start-ups and small businesses in Northeast Indiana have another option for securing capital. Kiva Hub Northeast Indiana, a crowdfunded microlending center, has opened at The Northeast Indiana Innovation Center (The NIIC) with the collaboration and support of The City of Fort Wayne, SEED, and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.


Kiva Hub Northeast Indiana offers distinct advantages to newer, smaller businesses that may lack credit history to secure a traditional bank loan. Kiva will not reject an entrepreneur because of their credit, net worth, or years in business. Rather, Kiva’s crowd-sourced model determines borrowers’ creditworthiness through “social underwriting” based on character and reputation.

Through Kiva Northeast Indiana, individuals can support loans to local entrepreneurs with contributions beginning at $25. These funds are pooled and loaned to those who may experience difficulty securing traditional bank loans. Borrowers can access up to $10,000 at zero percent interest with no fees. Globally, Kiva loans have a 97% repayment rate.

1. What businesses are NOT eligible to apply?

Businesses that are franchises, nonprofit organizations, chains, multi-level marketing firms, adult entertainment, gambling entities or lending businesses.  You may not have any active NIIC loans or convertible debentures or fees outstanding due to the NIIC at time of application.

2. What can the loan money be used for?

Must have at least one business deliverable or milestone that funding will advance within the next 6 months. Funds may not be used for personal indebtedness or personal expenses. Use of funds must be disclosed on application.

3. When is the deadline?

Applications will be available May 15, 2020, and accepted on a rolling basis until funds are exhausted. Applications will be prioritized according to funding need, prospect for a successful business reset and viability of the business model.

4. What types of businesses are eligible for micro-loans?

Microenterprises of 5 or less FTE are eligible for loans subject to the type of business eligibility stated in the first question above, the level of revenue noted in the eligibility requirements above and the effective date of commencement of operations.

5. What loan sizes are available, and are there grants?

Microloans will be available between $250 and $1,000 based on the indicated need of the applicant. We hope to offer increased microloans up to $5,000 in the future, but this will be based on our efforts to secure this outside funding.

There are no grants available under this program. All disbursements will be loans.

6. How will awards be evaluated?

Eligible candidates will be assessed based on demonstrated need, including, but not limited to:

  1. Business case made for the businesses reset and re-imagination
  2. Likely achievement of the milestone/deliverable within the performance period
  3. Previous participation and outcomes in NIIC/WEOC coaching, training and events.
  4. Located in a county serviced by NIIC/WEOC.
  5. Demonstrating status as a low- to moderate-income borrower.
  6. Financial condition/liquidity needs of the applicant.
  7. Likely survivability of the business.

7. What is the approval time from a completed application?

Completed applications are reviewed on a first come, first serve basis. Typical review time will be 5 to 7 business days or less. Funding for successful applicants will usually  be completed within 14 days of application submission if not sooner.

NIIC Leap Fund

LEAP (Local Entrepreneurial Acceleration Program) Fund is an option for current and past NIIC clients in good standing and non-NIIC clients. For non-NIIC clients in good standing, they will be underwritten on The NIIC’s behalf by a local bank prior to an approval/denial decision.

Investments are made by the Investment Committee of The NIIC’s Board of Directors. The LEAP Fund has approximately $500,000 of investable funds. Its investment recommendations follow a prescribed assessment, elevation and due diligence protocol. Only companies invited by The NIIC President and CEO may formally apply for gap financing. Entrepreneurs and business owners may apply on a rolling basis to the other two LEAP programs, but they require a current legal entity, to be domiciled in Northeast Indiana and have been denied by a bank or micro-lender/CDFI. Limited funds are available, resulting in high levels of competition.

  • GAP FINANCING. Usually tied to a specific investable business with other early stage angel investors, gap financing focuses on prototype development, feasibility studies and business plan creation. Financing can be as much as $50,000.
  • ASSET-BASED FINANCING. Provides up to $25,000 to entrepreneurs to lease technology and equipment needed to enhance, test and improve business operations. The venture needs to have cash flow to support debt repayment.
  • REVOLVING WORKING CAPITAL LINE OF CREDIT. Helps counter the cyclicality of the technology sales circuit. Financing can be as much as $15,000. Local micro-financing leaders, CDFI’s and CDC’s should be fully explored and investigated prior to making an application to The NIIC’s LEAP Fund.
  • CONVERTIBLE DEBENTURE: At the present time, the NIIC is only making convertible investments of up to $10,000. If you have interest in this program, please complete the general contact us form.

To learn more about accelerating your business or venture at The NIIC, contact us.


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