07 Feb LTFF Blog: Don’t Just Give – Make an IMPACT
By Casey Allen, Kiva Tulsa Lead
Growing up, I always loved giving away my parents’ money. Any time we passed a table of Girl Scouts selling cookies or animal shelter volunteers asking for donations, I would scrounge around in the bottom of my mom’s purse for quarters or a spare dollar to give. I know I am not alone in loving the “feeling” of giving – that rush of satisfaction in knowing that you’ve “done the right thing” or are helping to “make a difference.” These buzz phrases motivate a lot of donations.
While I still love to give as an adult, I’ll admit that I am more hesitant now that I’m older, and the money that I’m giving away is my own. Maybe that’s because I love my morning cup of takeout coffee and it’s hard to part with – but it’s also because as we grow up, we see for ourselves how hard it is to stretch a dollar. The impact of a dollar becomes less significant, and we start to question how much the charitable contribution we can afford to make really matters.
But what if there was a way to reimagine giving? What if there was a way to stretch the impact of your contribution across multiple years, projects, and people?
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your ability to contribute is too small to have an impact. For those of you reading who want to ensure the impact of your financial contributions, I urge you to simply sit down at your computer and become a lender on Kiva. In 2017, the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation announced that they would be partnering with Kiva as a way to bring an accessible microlending option to Tulsa. By offering crowdfunded small business loans of up to $10,000 at 0% interest, Kiva bridges the gap between entrepreneurs and the access to capital that they need to be successful in our city.
Through Kiva, any Tulsan can participate in crowdfunding these small business loans by going online, and supporting local entrepreneurs by lending just $25 at a time. That was the first step I took back in August, when I joined the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation team as the local Kiva program lead. I logged into my PayPal account, and made my first $25 Kiva loan to Sugar Rush Bakery, a local bakery that provides jobs and training to females who have been incarcerated. From there, I lent another $25 to Que Gusto, an Ecuadorian family working to open their first brick-and-mortar restaurant in the Archer building. I was quickly addicted to the direct impact I could make in the trajectory of these local businesses with just $25. Another $25 went to Mollycoddled Hash Slinger, a homemade candy company whose caramels I loved, and another $25 went to Fertile Ground Cooperative, a recycling and composting service.
My cumulative one hundred dollars helped these four businesses hire new employees, build out brick and mortar stores, and purchase environmentally-friendly supplies, among other things. These businesses were able to access a small business loan through Kiva, but more importantly, they were able to access an entire community of supportive lenders, like me.
Small business loans are widely recognized as a cornerstone to boosting local economies, and creating more inclusive business environments. 90% of startups fail within the first year, and the support for small business owners is concentrated to people who already come into business with economic or social privilege. According to the Small Business Association website, only 33% of its loan volume went to minority-owned businesses in 2017, and only 14% went to women-owned businesses. When you take the lending power and decision-making out of big banks, who traditionally deny such groups, and instead put lending in the hands of a community like ours, those statistics start to shift towards equality. On Kiva, 81% of our borrowers are women, and 63% of Kiva loans funded in the U.S. go to minority-owned businesses. Kiva is used in over 83 countries worldwide, and has funded loans in all 50 states. Since October of 2017, Kiva has already funded over $100,000 in loan volume to Oklahoma based loans.
About 400,000 people live in Tulsa today. If each of you made just one $25 Kiva loan to a local small business, together we could fund one thousand local businesses with $10,000 loans. We could fund the dreams of one thousand new inventors, bakers, designers, and inventors in our city. Your $25 can mean new jobs, new opportunities, and a new way to stimulate Tulsa’s economy. Visit Kiva today at www.kiva.org/tulsa to choose a business, make a loan, get repaid, and watch your impact grow.
Learn more about Kiva Tulsa in the video below, or visit www.kiva.org/tulsa.