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Empowering Underserved Entrepreneurs with Kiva: A Conversation with Claudia Porras Scott

Discover How Kiva of Northwest Arkansas Is Transforming Lives Through Microloans and Community Support

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Devin: What is your Superpower?

Claudia: I love that question. I do find that fascinating just because I think we all have some sort of superpower–even when we don't realize it. People don't realize how much they can do to change the world. I personally would say, usually, what people can tell is, “Well, she has Tourette's.” It's something that you have to battle with–you have to deal with every day. I would I would venture to say that that is my superpower–being very different in many ways. I am a woman in an entrepreneurial space that's very male-dominated. I am an immigrant and very proud of it. I have Tourette's, so all of these, like exclusionary or sometimes like minority boxes. I think it's what is my superpower.

In today's episode, I had the pleasure of speaking with Claudia Porras Scott, the Director of the Kiva NWA program and Head of Inclusive Entrepreneurship at Startup Junkie. Claudia shared her inspiring journey and the impactful work she is doing to support underserved entrepreneurs in Northwest Arkansas.

One of the most compelling aspects of our conversation was learning about Kiva’s unique approach to microfinancing in the United States. Many people associate Kiva with international efforts, but Claudia illuminated how the organization has been expanding its reach within the U.S. since 2011. Specifically, the Kiva NWA program, supported by the Walton Family Foundation, has been a beacon of hope for many local entrepreneurs.

Claudia explained, “In Northwest Arkansas, we’ve done over 130 loans, with 100 of those going to women-owned businesses. We’ve seen an uptick in black-owned and AAPI-owned businesses as well. We don’t know the barriers that people have faced, so we strive to provide opportunities for everyone.”

This program is particularly vital because it addresses the unique challenges faced by historically underserved minorities. Kiva’s model divides the fundraising process into a private and public phase. During the private phase, entrepreneurs must secure pledges from their community, demonstrating local support. Claudia noted, “The pledges are small, typically $25, and it’s about character over credit. We want to make sure the business appreciates and respects the community.”

The public phase opens the doors to Kiva’s extensive network of lenders, which has proven to be a lifeline for many. “Kiva’s platform has close to 3 million people lending and fundraising. It’s incredible to see the global support for our local entrepreneurs,” Claudia said.

The impact of these microloans extends far beyond financial support. Claudia’s work with Kiva NWA is not just about providing capital; it’s about fostering a supportive ecosystem where all entrepreneurs, regardless of their background, can thrive. This episode of Superpowers for Good highlights how inclusive entrepreneurship can drive social change and economic growth, one microloan at a time.


1. Introduction to Claudia Scott and Kiva in Arkansas: Claudia Scott, associated with Kiva in Arkansas, shares her journey from San Jose, Costa Rica, to becoming involved with Kiva through the Startup Junkie in Northwest Arkansas. She detailed her educational background and what led her to Kiva, emphasizing the personal fulfillment she finds in her role.

2. Kiva's Work in the U.S.: Claudia elaborated on Kiva’s expansion into the United States around 2011 and the establishment of hubs, including the one in Northwest Arkansas in 2019, which is supported by the Walton Family Foundation. She highlighted Kiva’s focus on historically underserved minorities and the significant impact in the area, including over 130 loans, primarily to women-owned businesses.

3. Crowdfunding and Loan Processes: Claudia explained Kiva’s dual-phase loan process (private and public). Local entrepreneurs in Arkansas are required to gather a certain number of pledges during the private phase, a practice rooted in community validation. She also discussed the significant support from the Walton Family Foundation, which helps match funds to expedite the fundraising process.

4. Startup Junkie and Kiva's Connection: Startup Junkie, which offers consulting and resources to entrepreneurs at no cost, complements Kiva's microloan services by providing smaller loans (e.g., $5,000) with no interest or fees to businesses that usually cannot access traditional bank loans. Claudia emphasized the symbiotic relationship between the services provided by Startup Junkie and Kiva’s focus on democratizing access to capital and resources for small businesses.

5. Personal Insights and Advocacy: Claudia opened up about her personal experiences with Tourette syndrome, using her journey to activism and her work with Tourette’s associations in the U.S. and Costa Rica to bring awareness and sensitivity to neurodiversity. Additionally, she shared her immigration story and the challenges she faced, advocating for greater empathy and understanding of the immigrant experience and highlighting the importance of humor and assuming positive intent in interactions.

How to Develop Empathy and Compassion As a Superpower

Claudia’s superpower is her unique ability to empathize with others and show deep compassion. Her diverse background, personal experiences, and openness about her condition have given her a profound understanding of the challenges people face, enabling her to connect with and support them in meaningful ways.

Claudia's superpower is her extraordinary empathy and compassion, cultivated through her personal journey as an immigrant with Tourette's syndrome. These experiences have allowed her to see life through a unique lens, enabling her to relate to and support others facing various challenges, especially in the entrepreneurial space.

Claudia recounted a poignant experience in Seattle where her Tourette’s symptoms were particularly noticeable. While she was feeling overwhelmed and frustrated by repeated inquiries about her condition, a mother approached her, explaining that her daughter also had Tourette’s and was inspired by Claudia’s openness. This encounter reminded Claudia of the impact of her transparency and kindness, reinforcing her commitment to helping others through her own struggles.

Tips for Developing Empathy and Compassion:

1. Use Humor: Claudia emphasizes the importance of humor in diffusing tense situations and making it easier to cope with challenges. Finding humor in difficult circumstances can help maintain a positive outlook.

2. Assume Good Intentions: Always assume people mean well, even if their words or actions seem misguided. This mindset fosters patience and understanding.

3. Embrace Vulnerability: Being open about personal struggles can inspire others and create a supportive community. Vulnerability fosters connections and empathy.

4. Learn from Diversity: Embrace and learn from diverse experiences and backgrounds. This broader perspective enhances empathy and compassion for others.

By following Claudia Porras Scott’s example and advice, you can make empathy and compassion a skill. With practice and effort, you could make it a superpower that enables you to do more good in the world.

Remember, however, that research into success suggests that building on your own superpowers is more important than creating new ones or overcoming weaknesses. You do you!

Guest Profile

Claudia Porras Scott (she/her):

Director of the Kiva NWA program and Head of Inclusive Entrepreneurship, Startup Junkie

About Startup Junkie: The Startup Junkie team is improving lives through innovation and entrepreneurship. Startup Junkie Consulting marked its beginnings in 2008 and formally organized as an LLC in 2011 by offering consulting services at no-cost to entrepreneurs. 


X/Twitter Handle: @startup_junkie

Company Facebook Page: Startup Junkie

Biographical Information: Claudia Scott is a dynamic and accomplished professional with substantial experience in capital access management, member engagement, and advocacy. She is currently working as the Capital Access Manager for Kiva NWA at Startup Junkie, where she is responsible for connecting small businesses and entrepreneurs to the resources and capital they need to thrive. Claudia's professional achievements are a testament to her dedication, passion and expertise in HR, workforce development, and business administration. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration & Strategic Communication from the University of the Ozarks and a Master's degree in HR and Workforce Development from the University of Arkansas. Claudia is a native English and Spanish speaker who brings an acute understanding of language and culture to her work, which has proven invaluable in building relationships and connecting with diverse communities.

Personal Facebook Profile:


Instagram Handle: @claudiapscott

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Superpowers for Good: Empowering Changemakers for Social Impact via Regulated Investment Crowdfunding from the SuperCrowd.
We host changemakers who are using regulated investment crowdfunding for social impact--impact crowdfunding--as impact investors or social entrepreneurs, catalyzing change with leadership skills we call superpowers.