As a team-bonding program, (ongoing), I initiated a call to our division personnel for a voluntary contribution of any amount from those interested in supporting KIVA. Following that, I established an INFORMAL KIVA account in the name of our division, provided regular reports and held a team meeting once every 2 or 3 months to re-allocate available funds.

To set this in motion, I sent a note to our division’s personnel explaining what KIVA was and the work KIVA does to help fight poverty around the world by loaning small amounts of money to wishful entrepreneurs in terribly poor regions. This idea turned out to be a wonderful experience for all involved, not only at that time, but for years afterwards. Some members chose not to participate but we also kept them informed of our progress.  Of those who chose to participate, some contributed as little as $5 and some as much as $20.

I assembled a KIVA funds allocation core team–anyone else was also welcomed, even those from other divisions– to meet over lunch, (bring your own lunch), to decide who among the many needy KIVA entrepreneurs would become the recipients of our allocations.

Each KIVA entrepreneur is loaned $25 from the funds available. Doesn’t sound like much. When our $25 is combined by KIVA with $25 loans from other sponsors from around the world, the needy entrepreneur receives amounts such as $250, $1,000, or more. By teaching those in poverty-stricken countries how to run a small business, Kiva tries to help people learn to earn and therefore how to climb from poverty, one MICRO-LOAN at a time. Once the entrepreneur pays back the loan, the money goes back into the original loan account and awaits a decision to re-loan to other needy entrepreneurs. The original money is re-loaned over and over again and, thereby, a small amount of money helps many entrepreneurs.

Between our team’s KIVA account and my own personal KIVA account, together, we’ve been able to help well over 500 needy entrepreneurs in over 49 countries, so far, and the money keeps recirculating as it makes its way back to the original loan account. This money will help many, many future needy entrepreneurs throughout the world in countries I could never visit.

Imagine helping 500 small businesses, over time,  by reloaning  $25 loans…right from the comfort of your laptop while adding another useful tool to the manager’s team-spirit-building toolbox.

If you are a manager, you may want to hook up with KIVA and put a call out to your own team for voluntary contributions. Though it is very serious business to the needy entrepreneurs, it may be a source of great satisfaction for the members of your division.

[For more about KIVA and to read some of the many success stories, or to learn of other companies sponsoring KIVA entrepreneurs in poor countries, click here: http://www.kiva.org/ ]