I'm Steven Van Yoder, founder of Global Initiative to Advance Entrepreneurship (GIVE), a nonprofit 501c3 I founded a few years ago to address poverty in the developing world. My organization targets the poorest of the poor, boosting entrepreneurship in targeted countries via an innovative model that emphasizes business skills training for microentrepreneurs, and community economic development that meets local needs.
I was inspired to found this organization after several trips to developing countries. The most poignant moment came when visiting Bali, Indonesia in November 2001 (two months after the 9/11 attacks). I saw the effects on the local economy that resulted from a downward dip in tourism. As a marketing consultant, I also appreciate how local businesses, lacking marketing savvy, set themselves up for unnecessary challenges.
At this time I met and became friends with a bright, motivated taxi driver while on that trip. I spent a week with him touring the island and sold him on the benefits of promoting himself as a local tour guide, rather than a dime-a-dozen taxi driver.
I taught him basic marketing skills, such as keeping in touch by email with clients. I helped him print his business cards and design a simple website. In subsequent visits, I saw how mentoring had helped his business flourish, and appreciated how the poor often benefit more from acquiring intellectual capital rather than handouts or loans.
Making Microfinance Better
Since GIVE's inception, microcredit has become a household word, due in part to Mohammad Yunus winning the noble prize in 2006, and microlending website Kiva growing in popularity. Though this recent spotlight on poverty is promising, it's also helped microcredit become seen by many as a panacea for poverty, an oversimplification to a complex situation.
Microlending is seductive because it's seen as an alternative to charity that encourages personal responsibility and dignity by helping the poor gain needed credit, rather than handouts. Unfortunately, many studies challenge microcredit has been oversold, showing that small loans, by themselves, are not truly lifting the poor out of poverty.
The microfinance industry tends to measure its success in terms of loan payback rates and general social improvement, not the degree by which poor borrowers build successful businesses. Moreover, modern the modern microfinance industry has not implemented strategies to ensure their borrowers' businesses grow and prosper while measuring the degree that borrowers move out of poverty.
GIVE plans to step in and bridge this gap. By working through established Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) and poverty-focused groups, GIVE seeks to strengthen their impact and bring needed ideas, resources and training to partner staff and borrowers.
A Holistic Model for Poverty Alleviation
GIVE pursues a client-centered approach to poverty alleviation that complements and strengthens the impact of our microfinance partners.
Through entrepreneurship training, general financial education, mentoring, and building alliances between local and international businesses, GIVE seeks to alleviate poverty in the lives of individual microentrepreneurs and throughout entire local communities.
GIVE pursues a holistic poverty alleviation model for providing nonfinancial services, including business skills training, community economic development and family wellness and social development. Our programs are designed to assist the poor with a more effective model for growing small businesses in poverty-stricken parts of the world.
GIVE is currently forming a microfinance institution partnership network in SE Asia and piloting several projects throughout the region. Our goal throughout 2010-2011 is developing a working model for providing comprehensive services to the poor that can then be scaled and expanded globally so that microentrepreneurs will be able to receive the skills they need for real success, not just loan repayment.
GIVE's Entrepreneurship Center model constitutes the flagship from which other GIVE programs will be delivered. Entrepreneurship Centers are modeled on successful business support centers that now exist in the USA, such as the US Small Business Administration (SBA), and provide a range of nonfinancial services to our field partners and their borrowers.
Want to Join Us?
GIVE is seeking volunteers and advisors for key areas of its new programs. We need a wealth of expertise and welcome inquires from anyone interested in helping us expand this working model for twenty-first century poverty alleviation.
Moreover, to support our efforts at financial self-sufficiency, GIVE is developing an Adopt A Community sponsorship program that will be marketed to small businesses and multinational companies with a stake in targeted communities, and to individual and companies, both small and large, that would like to support GIVE community programs as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts.
If you are interested in learning more or getting involved as a partner, volunteer or supporter, visit our Get Involved page.
Finally, you can keep up with GIVE, and learn more about our current programs, by subscribing to our blog.