BizFilings understands that forming your company is only one step toward business success. Obtaining the funding that your business needs to operate and to expand is also critically important. For that reason, BizFilings has partnered with Kiva Zip, a crowdfunding microloan site that helps entrepreneurs obtain 0% interest loans to fund and grow their businesses.
This week, The Partnerships for America (PFA), a BizFilings customer, debuts as a borrower on Kiva Zip. PFA is seeking funding for its Cuddle Me Program. The Cuddle Me Program provides free diapers, wipes, and other baby essentials to families in need. To learn more about Cuddle Me, we spoke with PFA’s founder and CEO Ann McIntyre.
Partnership for America and the Cuddle Me Program got its start in 2005 when Ann McIntyre received an unusual call from her business banker. A runaway teenage girl and her infant had been sleeping in the bank’s ATM building. The bank manager knew that Ann had connections with many social service agencies in the area and would find a way to help the girl keep her baby.
When she was unable to find a place that would take both mother and baby, Ann took them home with her, stopping on the way to buy necessary baby items. Eventually, Ann located housing for the girl and her baby, but the expense involved in purchasing basic baby supplies—diapers, baby wipes, bottles—made her realize the hardships that many parents face.
At that moment, the Cuddle Me program began to take shape. “I had to do something to help,” Ann explained. “I can’t allow these children to not be taken care of.”
Diapers, wipes, and other basic baby supplies are not covered by state and federal aid payments, such as the WIC program. A typical infant will use up to a dozen diapers a day, which can add up to over $100 per month in diapers alone. Diaper services are equally cost prohibitive and many laundromats forbid patrons to wash diapers, Ann pointed out. Plus, few day-care centers will accept children in cloth diapers. By providing diapers, the Cuddle Me Program helps keep the babies healthy and increases the family’s day care options.
From Ann’s initial act of kindness to one teenage mom, the program has grown to serve 37,000 babies and toddlers in eight states and the District of Columbia. Cuddle Me partners with other non-profits, such as churches and food banks, as well as state agencies to handle the distribution of the baby supplies. Each distribution day, the Cuddle Me partner sites distribute between 1,000 – 5,000 diapers, as well as wipes and cans of formula.
Cuddle Me is focused on helping the child get a better start in life. As Ann explained, “The kids are the first priority. We help the parents make sure that the kids are taken care of.” To help accomplish this, during the distribution process, the program partners evaluate each child for signs of abuse, malnourishment, and undiagnosed medical conditions. Guidelines are also in place to prevent fraud so that the supplies distributed benefit those in need. Another indication of Ann’s commitment to “kids first” is that only 10% of every dollar goes to administrative costs.
As one can imagine, the cost of supplying 37,000 babies with diapers is staggering. In addition, Cuddle Me bears the cost of distributing the supplies to its partner organizations. As CEO, Ann spends much of her time building partner alliances and fundraising. She’s always on the lookout for additional avenues to raise needed funds.
So, when she received an email from BizFilings inviting her to participate in the Kiva Zip partnership program, she was intrigued. Thus far, Ann reports, “It’s been interesting. We’ve never done anything like this before. It’s a little different than going out and talking with someone directly.” Although it’s been a learning experience to prepare her Kiva Zip profile, she’s excited by the prospect of obtaining funding through the microloan program and building connections with her investors, which can help Cuddle Me met its goal to expand into all 50 states by 2016.
We are excited to have Ann participate in this program. Ann has been a Biz Filings customer since 2010 when she incorporated The Partnerships for America as a Delaware nonprofit. Operating as a non-profit entitles the organization to a tax-exemption, which was important to the growing charity because many states tax diapers. Plus, Ann added, “having a non-profit status meant that there were many grants we could go after.”
She chose BizFilings on the recommendation of a friend. “We were so overwhelmed with trying to get diapers that we did not want to deal with the state paperwork.” In addition to the initial incorporation in Delaware, “BizFilings has done our filings in other states and is our registered agent in all states.” Ann summed up her experience with BizFilings: “They provide a sense of relief almost. When you look at state’s websites, you think ‘this is ridiculous.’ So I turned it over to BizFilings.”
We are looking forward to following her progress. We encourage you to check out Ann’s Kiva Zip page. And, if you are interested in exploring Kiva Zip financing for your company, we invite you to contact Kiva Zip.