Category Archives: corporate partnership

Priming the pump for mainstream investors

money

Kiva has launched a remarkable employee giving strategy that enterprise companies like Google, HP and Deutsche Bank have taken advantage of, and with strong executive leadership, these companies have delivered significant results.

CSR programs work towards lifting morale by demonstrating support for communities in need. Traditionally, these employee activities have included out-of-office hands-on volunteer activities on personal or professional time working directly with a charity’s beneficiaries.   Kiva’s Team crowdfunding platform has created a low-risk opportunity for companies to engage employees in the act of lending. Recipients are not charity cases and the employees need not leave the office.

 Not only are the results measurable and the funding recyclable, but the experiential influence of the lending process has an end-to-end productivity spectrum that leaves the employee feeling satisfied and wanting more.  

Premal Shah, President of KIVA led a panel at SOCAP last week that gave us more details.   Ranging from $25-$75, each of these companies created a program whereby their employees could lend the maximum value. Participation has been anywhere from 43-60% with HP clocking in at 120,000 employee participants to date.   Google even created an online visual map that shows in real time, where the loan originated and the country it went to.  

Here is a CSR program with unique and real potential to unlock awareness for the value of socially beneficial business platforms.

The founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman took the entire concept a step further by issuing a challenge in 2012 by providing $1M outside of his organization. Kiva was instructed to distribute certificates delivered through social media to introduce new would-be investors to the concept. Over the course of 14 months, not only was $994,000 returned to Reid but in incremental $1.2M got invested by newly indoctrinated investors and entrepreneurs received loans at 10x’s the normal rate.

Like all CSR efforts, the question is what comes next. Crowdfunding is changing financial markets and millennials are seeking to be a part of the solution.  Google invested in Oakland’s Impact HUB where Kiva Zip recipients can operate and Googlers can invest their time to assist in capacity building consultation.   CSR is a valuable company perk but where can these well-meaning efforts drive real market change?

Photo credit: Sharyn Morrow

floating garbage

ba-plastiki03_ph_0499860243A sailboat made of recycled plastic?  The Plastiki is the brainchild of David de Rothschild, a polar adventurer and scion to the Rothschild family heir.    It  is a 60 foot catamaran that is potentially an innovative wonder made of recycled plastic bottles and materials crafted from self-reinforced PET.   Intended for completion and launch “sometime next month” (or maybe next), the Plastiki is currently undergoing its build off Pier 31 in San Francisco.  The intent is to raise awareness for his foundation Adventure Ecology and the work it does via a sail from the U.S. to Australia which will take it through the little-known Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Sounds like an amazing endeavor with the potential to draw much-needed attention for the harm plastic garbage thrown into our oceans causes.  Yet, this journey has all the markings of a Richard Branson stunt, minus the “credibility” – which firmly moves back all those strides  greenies have been making in getting the green movement out of hippieville.

I am actually a big fan of Richard Branson, but it takes more than money to draw credible, actionable attention.  I absolutely “heart” David for his intentions, but I’d like to take this opportunity to propose a bit of context for his next well-intentioned and ambitious adventure:  1) develop a solid plan that meets the approval of experienced engineers – self-mockery on the liklihood that it will contribute to the aqua-junk doesn’t help focus attention on the cause of waste as resource. 2) establish credible partnerships that can help you spread the word –  companies (like P&G or Nestle) that buy into your strategy and can promote your success will actually create impact where the problem starts – at the corporate and consumer level.  3) Which goes to say that self-depracating humor is infinitely enjoyable, but avoid the trappings of a “stunt”.    The best story (and video) I read on David was found on a National Geographic Adventure blog dedicated to the Plastiki because it included lots of facts and established some solid grounding for the whole concept. Still the humor of the “we might not make it” (in the video) will only work for the cause – if truly, he makes it. (and I hope he does!)

partnering for our urban good

nyc-transportation-alternativesPSFK reported last week on NYC’s Transportation Alternatives program Nine for ’09.   NYCTA been around since 1973 and they’ve done some tremendous advocacy work in the areas of bicycling , walking and taking public transportation to reclaim New York’s streets from the automobile. They have already announced their September NYC Century Bike Tour and clearly they’ve got some talented design folks on their side.

The question I have is why haven’t they enlisted corporate support? Nike Considered Products, Trek bicycles, Timbukt2 bags would be perfect “urban” supporters –  to name a very few. All of these could develop some pretty cool high-profile retail promotional programs around what are already some really well-thought out events.

With a population’s increasing attention on what’s happening locally, for the city by the city, companies would do well to give-back in a way that  parallels what our overstretched and under-funded gov’t is attempting to do.    Tapping existing, smartly run and well-marketed programs is just the way to do that.