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Impact Beyond Impact: First Mile Entrepreneurs Receive Loans To Grow Their Businesses

Every decision made at the Threadquarters is made with one goal in mind: making our First Mile as strong as possible. The First Mile is the most important part of our supply chain, and it’s our responsibility to ensure that everyone working in it is successful. That not only means creating demand for recycled plastic and income opportunities in these countries, but also insuring that the people working in the First Mile have the tools and support they need to build successful companies and be incredible entrepreneurs.

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Here’s the deal. We noticed that in our supply chain some collection center owners would have to shut down their business because of a broken scale, a hurricane took out their center, or other situations beyond their control. To avoid situations like this, Thread’s impact team created a zero-interest loan system through Kiva. Thread and Kiva are on the same page when it comes to ending poverty, which made the partnership a natural fit. Given the unique operating structure of Thread, the companies worked together through Kiva’s pilot direct-to-social enterprise loan program in order to raise funds to support First Mile entrepreneurs.

“When interviewing our suppliers we would learn that when faced with unexpected equipment failures, such as a broken scale, centers would often need to shut down for up to two weeks. By offering access to capital through small business loans, we can ensure these suppliers are positioned to remain open, increase their revenue, and provide stable jobs and income opportunities in their communities,” says Kelsey, Thread’s director of impact and sales.

Let’s break it down:

– Last May, Thread started the monthly loan program which allowed us to lend about $150 to First Mile suppliers and collection center owners in our supply chain.

– Back in April 2017, Thread raised $10,000 through lenders on Kiva’s site.

– $5,000 will be given to innovative First Mile Entrepreneurs to help them grow and       improve their business.

– The other $5,000 will allow us to continue our monthly program, but instead of only   being able to lend $150, we can lend $800.

So far, who received the Kiva loans?

The first is Vilner. Vilner is a collection center owner in Port-Au-Prince. He has seven full time and three part time employees that work for him and makes 12 trips to a recycling facility a week. Vilner owns a truck, which is pretty rare in our collection network in Haiti. He is going to use the money to get new tires as well as hire a driver to help him out while he handles operations at his collection center.

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This loan will enable his truck to drive for collection center owners and big collectors who live in Leogane, which is an underserved area that often has difficulty transporting material to the main recycling facilities. Upon receiving his loan he said, “I am so happy about that. I knew that I would be qualified because I am a good candidate, I am supporting a lot of people. That loan will be a booster for me to prove my the results of my hard work.”

The second is Nadine. Nadine has been in the Thread family for a long time. She has seven employees that work for her, three full time and four part time, all while supporting 35 collectors at her existing collection centers. With her loan money, she plans to open two more collection centers. Not only does this mean that she will be able to expand her business, but she’ll also be able to employ even more collectors than she already is.

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When Nadine was told she’d received the loan, she couldn’t help herself from laughing out of pure delight for about 30 seconds and said, “Really, really! I knew that I would be chosen, I knew it, I knew it!”

Nadine has put her entire life into growing her business and this loan will allow her to be as successful as she can possibly be. “I will do all my best to not disappoint any of you. I will show what a woman can do,” she said with a big smile.

“When it boils down to it, we realized that we’re investing more into people and less into ideas. For example, If you were to take a really good idea to a bank and ask for a loan to fund it, they would want to see some type of credibility that you’ll be able to execute against it. Nadine and Vilner are two center owners who we know to be excellent business people, so it made sense to put our trust (and our funding) behind them,” says Evan, Thread’s impact manager.

What is special about Nadine and Vilner is not just that they are driven, trustworthy people, but that they are leaders in their community. The impact of these loans will spread far beyond just Vilner and Nadine. They will be able to improve the lives of so many in their own communities with income opportunities and support from their collection centers.

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