Excellent organization with great local teams and a real focus on building small businesses and promothing their social engagement.
A unique aspect of this development model is the "doubling effect" of my contribution. A traditional grant to a micro- or small-enterprise project leads to increased employment and incomes for the poor beneficiaries. In this model, my funds not only increase employment and incomes in developing economies, they also deliver charitable goods and services to the under-served in the entrepreneurs' communities. The Thriive model promotes free enterprise, and at the same time, develops a local, business-culture of philanthropy.
I worked as a consultant with Thriive on two past projects, and recently became a Thriive donor through 3rd Creek Foundation. In 2008, I conducted the first external evaluation of the Thriive program (then SMI) in Palestine and Vietnam. I was highly impressed observing the program model, which uses market-based solutions to improve communities and promote strong local cultures of philanthropic giving. Since that time, Thriive has expanded into two additional countries, Kenya and Nicaragua, and continues to progress in achieving scale and expanding impact. Thriive has established excellent partnerships with outstanding local organizations in each country of operation, which is also key to the program's success.
We have recently returned from visiting several businesses which THRIIVE supports in the Palestinian territories. THRIIVE works with the Small Enterprise Center in Ramallah to identify viable businesses and then to offer consulting services as well as funds. Emphasis is on promoting entrepreneurship among women and providing training, internships and job growth. The money is not repaid to THRIIVE, but goods and services are "paid forward" to needy nonprofits. We witnessed the smiles on the faces of orphans as they received delicious yogurt and baked goods from two THRIIVE supported businesses. The most promising part of the program is that this philanthropy continues after the loan is repaid. THRIIVE is building a culture of philanthropy where little existed before. We visited a greenhouse where organic produce is grown, a sewing business producing piecework and an olive oil soap business producing impressive herbal varieties of soap. All had created jobs and were owned by women.
I have known the directors of this foundation for many years and have traveled with Erik and Linn to the Occupied Territories in Isreal to see their projects. They have local managers who monitor the work and impact on the local communities. Their "pay-it-forward" approach encourages empathy and generosity in a very unique and meaningful way.
Because I am the director of a private foundation, I have many years experience visiting and evaluating projects worldwide and feel confident in the choices and policies of Thriive.
Thriive is an innovative, professionally managed, and committed social entrepenneurial organization to fund and work with. Their creatiive concept of "pay-it-forward" loans is relatively unique in my experience of grantmaking and micro-credit loans. By finding organizations and companies that will produce a service or product that can be useful to the local community, they help to enhance the concept of localized, direct, small scale philanthropy where it most counts- right at the neighborhood, village, or regional level. Grant dollars are therefore leveraged multiple times, and most important, the decision-making is in-country by local people. By focusing on capital loans they are able to make the transaction accountable to its intention, which is to "pay forward" the principal and intrest into the community. I believe that they have worked hard to monitor the loans and ensure that the goods and services do get released into the community.
I have been a Thriive donor for over three years and I continue to be impressed by the organization and its impact throughout the globe. They are creating powerful change in the developing world by helping local people develop strong businesses that in turn give back to their communities. I have had the pleasure of seeing their work first hand in Kenya and was touched to see the impact that is being made on the ground. The various entrepreneurs I met were building thriving businesses that employed more people and provided social resources for their communities and this creates a powerful ripple effect in every region Thriive operates.