A woman approached me as I was preparing for my lessons for the day. I was in Kairi, a rural village in Kenya, teaching some basic business skills classes to members of a microfinance group.
She introduced herself as Alice.
In our class the day before, I taught a lesson on managing money in a small business. I used a fictional business owner named Alice to illustrate the importance of keeping business money and personal money separate.
Alice was her real name, and she told me that today she is a “new Alice” after my lesson. She continued, “No more will I be the old Alice who is not wise with her money!”
It was at that moment I realized the power of what we were doing. (You can read more about this experience and more in The Unlikely Missionary: From Pew-Warmer to Poverty-Fighter.)
I’ve been a huge fan of microfinance ever since.
And that’s why I’ve made it an initiative of ours to support microfinance projects this year. Our goal is to help provide opportunities for small business owners, especially in underserved areas.
We’re working through Kiva, a top-rated charity who bridges the gap between people and entrepreneurs around the world. Kiva’s mission is “to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.”
After six months of working on this project, this is our first Kiva Impact Report.
Empowering Entrepreneurs Globally
The best thing about microfinance is that it isn’t about donating free money to people. These are small loans designed to enable an entrepreneur to grow their business. This allows small business owners to not only provide for their families, but many of them also create jobs in their communities.
In our efforts this year, we’ve supported microloans for people like:
- Osterman in Columbia (pictured above) – As a farmer, he used the loan to hire local laborers to help him build drainage canals for better irrigation for his crops. His loan is currently 13% repaid.
- Shoyra in Tajikistan (below, left) – Her loan was used to buy a sewing machine and start a new business sewing women’s clothing. Her loan is currently 21% repaid.
- Wilmer in Ecuador (below, right) – He owns a taxi, and his loan helped him do maintenance and change the tires on his taxi. He also got additional business training to go with the loan. His loan is already 73% repaid.
Each of these entrepreneurs has dreams, not unlike my own, to grow a business so they can better support their families. Many are working to improve their homes and pay for education for their children (something often taken for granted in a country where we have free public education).
Every one of these microloans gets them one step closer to fulfilling their goals and dreams.
Using Kiva as a Tool To Support Microfinance
The best way I can describe what Kiva does is that it’s kind of like a Kickstarter for microloans to entrepreneurs in poverty-stricken areas around the world. (Kiva is actually older, but I know the reference would make sense.)
Their website allows you to search for borrowers by region, business sector, and/or other attributes you may want to target.
Each borrower has a profile page telling you about the loan, the story of the borrower, why the loan is special, and several other details. A loan can be for any amount, and lenders can chip in for as little as $25.
The idea is that many of us can throw in what we can to fund that entrepreneur. Together we fund the loan, and repayments are distributed back to each of us when the borrower makes their payments each month.
When that money is repaid, we can then turn it around and lend it to another entrepreneur. That means $100 initial investment can end up having a far greater impact over time as it continues to get reinvested.
Business Supporting Business
At the beginning of 2019, we started allocating $100 from each new qualified small business client who started working with us towards a microloan. So for each business client starting a new website development project or using us for our ongoing SEO services, we would make the contribution toward a business through Kiva.
As a growing business, our heart is to leverage some of our profits to support other growing businesses around the world.
Once we’ve selected an entrepreneur to fund through Kiva, we also notify the new client about what we’ve done in honor of them. Some have also joined our team on Kiva to further support a borrower (the same one, or another one they find on their own).
Focus on Poverty-Stricken Areas
While there is need everywhere, our focus so far has been on places where the communities are under-served, families are often displaced, and where poverty means that there simply isn’t an opportunity to provide the basics.
So far this year, out of 12 loans funded by Team Fistbump, all 12 are in different countries across South/Central America, Africa, and Asia.
While we may fund additional loans in countries we’ve already supported, our goal is to spread the love as much as we can around the world.
The Importance of Social Responsibility (and Gratitude)
There are two main reasons this is an important initiative for us this year, social responsibility and gratitude.
First, we’re driven by a desire to care for our fellow human being. This desire is rooted in our faith in God, and the Bible’s call for us to help those who have a need. As I’ve been out on missions trips around the world, I see lots of need.
So we’re using what we have to help others… not with a handout, but a hand-up.
Second, it’s about gratitude. As the founder of Fistbump Media, I’ve directly experienced what running a small business can do to provide for my family. I have a great deal of respect for others around the world who are chasing their dreams with a desire to provide well for their families.
And we’re grateful to all of the clients who have been there for us. So this is one way we can say thank you and pay forward what we’ve been given.
Our Kiva Impact Report for the First Half of 2019
In the first six months of 2019, we’ve added 8 new small business clients who have met the qualifying threshold. So that’s $800 that we’ve invested into loans so far.
With a few other small loans from team members and clients, plus a little repayment money reinvested in new loans, our total impact is $1,000 worth of microloans.
You can view the full Kiva Impact Report for Team Fistbump here:
We expect the impact to grow more rapidly through the rest of the year as we continue to reinvest repayments and bring on more new small business clients. Additionally, we’d love to invite you to join the team and help us help even more people…
Final Thoughts (and an Invitation)
The impact so far has been exciting to watch! I look forward to every opportunity I get to send over another $100, or reinvest repayments from existing loans. It reminds me of conversations I’ve had with business owners on some of my missions trips when they share what kind of impact the loans have for them. It’s life-changing.
And while we’ll continue to invest as the opportunities arise, you can join us in this work too! It’s super easy…
- Join our team on Kiva.
- Find a borrower you’d like to support (through the Lend menu).
- At checkout, set the team assignment drop-down to Team Fistbump.
Let’s go change the world! #fistbump