My business partner and I both believe that helping others is not only good business but everyone’s business, thus we are focused on running a business that is not only ethical, but reinvests a percentage of revenue into projects helping others.
As a startup business, our first initiative is helping girls and women in developing economies. Something we call The Girl Effect.
Women are over half the world’s population, working two-thirds of the world’s working hours, receiving just 10% of the world’s income and owning less than 1% of the world’s property.
Stop and think about that for a minute.
Women do TWO-THIRDS of the world’s work, for ONE-TENTH of the world’s income yet own only ONE PERCENT of the world’s property.
Women in developing countries, specifically developing Islamic countries in Africa and the Middle East, have it the worst. Through a combination of religious tradition and cultural ignorance, many women are refused any kind of education, prevented from handling any of the family finances and oftentimes not even allowed to leave the house without a male family member.
They are expected to do the majority of the household work, beaten and raped by their husbands or other male family members, yet reap few, if any, of the benefits of their labor.
When you invest in women in the developing world, through academics or basic economic education, the investment grows ten fold. The most powerful thing you can do for the world is empowering girls. Therefore we choose to empower women entrepreneurs who in turn empower their children who in turn empower the entire village and eventually the world.
The women we work with do a variety of things from making and selling handicrafts in Ethiopia, to running small markets in Vietnam, to leasing heated garages in Mongolia to protect cars during the harsh winters.
Regardless of how big or small their businesses are, women reinvest their earnings into education and healthcare for their family. By bringing home money, they gain economic independence from the men in their lives to the point of being treated like a human being.
When you empower a girl, you empower a whole village.
The main way we empower women is by giving them a microloan on Kiva. Kiva is a web 2.0 social media platform that connects those in need of a loan to microlenders on the ground to people all over the world who give loans as small as $25.
Two years and 115 loans later, we only have a 1.56% delinquency rate and that is a result of a civil war in Tanzania making it impossible for the lender to collect payments rather than inability to repay.
This Holiday rather than being part of the problem by consuming more things that you don’t need, consider being a part of the solution by buying Kiva cards for your customers, colleagues, friends and family. Not only will they be able to make a difference in the life of someone less fortunate, but they will eventually get the money back to either take and spend or re-lend.