Local honey business hopes to receive $10,000 Kiva loan to complete expansion

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Local business owners, Kavita and Justin Bay, are hoping to get a Kiva loan to expand their business, Rivulet Apiaries and Hindu Hillbilly Farms during a Farm Fresh Pitchfest in Missoula on Feb. 1. (Photo courtesy Barnibbe Photography).

Local entrepreneurs, Kavita and Justin Bay, will be featured at the 2nd Annual Farm Fresh Pitchfest hosted by the Community Food and Agriculture Coalition.

It will take place on Feb. 1 at the Burns Street Bistro in Missoula. The event gives local farmers and food business owners the opportunity to pitch their projects to a live audience of community members who want to meet their farmers and invest in local food.

The investments made by the public can range anywhere from $25 to $10,000 and goes toward a zero percent interest Kiva loan. Kiva is a global non-profit and provides small business owners with access to up to $10,000 in loans to expand their business.

Unlike traditional bank loans, Kiva loans do not require a minimum credit score, years of cash flow documentation or collateral. The Bays own Rivulet Apiaries and Hindu Hillbilly Farms and live up Fish Creek at Rivulet in between Alberton and Superior. They started their business in 2009 and maintain around 190 bee hives and produce honey, skincare products and candles.

“Right now we can only direct sale our products at farmers markets,” explained Kavita in an interview with the coalition. “In order to wholesale our honey, we need to have our honey house certified as a food processing facility. When our shop is complete, it will be set up to get that license.”

The couple is hoping to receive a $10,000 Kiva loan which will allow them to complete the expansion project before this next season begins. Kiva loans begin with an on-line application at their website Kiva.org. Then additional steps need to be taken in order to qualify for the loan for businesses which include farmers, salon owners, event planners, food manufactures, video production, jewelry businesses, and more.

During the Thursday Pitchfest between 6 and 8 p.m., four businesses will talk about their needs in the hopes of bringing in investors.

“At the Pitchfest event, four small local business owners [the coalition] has chosen to endorse will pitch their loan project to a community audience in hopes of being funded. This event is an opportunity for the Missoula community to become more involved in their local food system,” a press release from the Community Food and Agriculture Coalition stated.

Kavita said their goals are to strive for environmental sustainability in their beekeeping practices. They also want to educate and foster understanding and appreciation of honey bees, “there’s so much going on right now with bee health, and I feel like we’re working on a puzzle and trying to figure out the best way for them to survive, that’s good for them and their species.”

The other businesses who will be presenting are Crow’s View Farm in Ronan who are asking for $8,000 to purchase a high tunnel through a cost share program with NRCS; Backerei Provincial from Dixon who needs $3,000 for startup bakery costs; and Black Bear Soups and Produce from Missoula who need $8,000 to purchase a walk behind tractor to increase production.

“I am grateful for this opportunity to have an interest free community supported loan so we can finish our shop before the busy season begins. This will make it possible for us to get licensed to wholesale our honey,” said Kavita.

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