Driving sustainable change through entrepreneurism

“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

In 2015, the United Nations launched the Sustainable Development Goals, seventeen goals with identifiable targets to alleviate poverty, mitigate climate change, and empower women and girls.

Corporations, government entities, and nonprofit organizations are working together to accomplish these goals and focus on long-term, sustainable growth. One way to support these goals and spur economic growth is through entrepreneurism.

Several corporate-nonprofit partnerships exist to promote entrepreneurship, business growth, and sustainable social change.

(1) Kiva

Kiva is an international nonprofit organization that connects individuals from around the world through lending to support entrepreneurs and alleviate poverty. To date, 1.6 million lenders have loaned $947.80 million to 2.2 million borrowers in 82 countries. With as little as $25, lenders provide funds to help borrowers purchase everything from charcoal to sell to their community to beauty supplies to sell in salons.

Several corporate groups and small businesses have partnered with Kiva in their employee and corporate giving programs.

Hewlett Packard Company

In 2014, Hewlett Packard launched “Matter to a Million,” a five year program to help fund one million entrepreneurs’ businesses.

Each year, HP employees receive $25 to loan to Kiva borrowers. In 2016, HP employees funded 45,000 loans which totaled $1 million.

Matter to a Million Kiva

Intuit

Intuit in partnership with Kiva launched a program in November 2015 to support entrepreneurism. The Intuit Financial Freedom Foundation (IFFF) established a $50,000 loan matching program. In recognition of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, half the funds were designated to women-owned small businesses.

By partnering with Kiva, these corporations fuel entrepreneurship around the globe, creating economic opportunity, and engaging their employees in a personal way.

(2) Ashoka

Ashoka is a global nonprofit organization that supports social entrepreneurs and invests in individuals dedicated to finding solutions to today’s toughest global challenges.  

Unilever

In 2012, Unilever in partnership with the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and in collaboration with Ashoka launched the annual Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneur Awards. These awards recognize young leaders (ages 35 and under) developing innovative solutions to global challenges. The winners receive prize money and mentorship.

The Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneur Awards support Unilever’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneur Awards

eBay Foundation

In 2011, eBay Foundation in partnership with Ashoka Changemakers, an Ashoka program that supports social entrepreneurs, launched the “Powering Economic Opportunity: Create a World that Works” competition. This competition sought to find market-based solutions that provided employment to underserved populations and created economic opportunity. The five winners received $50,000 in startup capital to finance their businesses.

In order to alleviate climate change, poverty, and other systemic challenges, corporate groups, nonprofits, and other entities must work together. With providing individuals capital to fund their business dreams, these corporations are creating economic opportunity, engaging their employees in an innovative way, and contributing to sustainable economic development.