Entrepreneurs have a well-deserved reputation for being independent. This can be both a strength and a weakness. Psychologists tell us that the maturing process happens in three stages. We go from being dependent to being independent to being interdependent.
Our working lives often follow the same path. Most of us start out working for someone else, go out on our own and may be quite alone at first, then mature into a business that interacts and collaborates with other businesses.
One of the wisest axioms I’ve ever heard is the one that says to support that which supports you. If you are going to be entrepreneurial, that translates into supporting entrepreneurial activities in whatever way you can.
There are some simple things you can do to use your business as a vehicle for supporting the entrepreneurial spirit around the world. For starters, look for ways to do business with other small businesses. You might pay a little more to shop at an independent bookseller or hardware store, but do it anyway.
When author Barbara Sher learned that her neighborhood florist was in danger of going out of business, she went home and e-mailed her large database inviting them to order flowers from the shop and have them sent to her. She explained how wonderful the flower shop was and what a bright spot it was in her New York neighborhood. She assured us that even a small order would help. That’s the kind of practical support that we can offer one another.
Another way to expand the spirit of enterprise is to contribute to organizations who help others start businesses. For years I’ve been a strong supporter of Heifer who gives livestock to people around the world to get them started in business. These days, I’m especially enthusiastic about Kiva who gives us the opportunity to become micro-lenders for a mere $25. What’s especially fun about the Kiva model is that you get to select the recipient of your loan–and follow their progress repaying the loan. If you haven’t paid them a visit, I urge you to do so.
Look what Kiva has accomplished in three short years:
|Total value of all loans made through Kiva:||$46,738,210|
|Number of Kiva Lenders:||348,752|
|Number of loans that have been funded through Kiva:||65,425|
|Percentage of Kiva loans which have been made to women entrepreneurs:||77.71%|
|Number of Kiva Field Partners (microfinance institutions Kiva partners with):||88|
|Number of countries Kiva Field Partners are located in:||41|
|Current repayment rate (all partners):||98.69%|
|Current default rate (all partners):||1.31%|
|Average size of loan for funding:||$456.57|
|Average total amount loaned per Kiva Lender (includes reloaned funds):||$134.09|
|Average number of loans per Kiva Lender:||3.58|
By the way, did you notice the repayment rate? What does that say about the power of enterprising spirits?