"What’s your social impact?” Four words, hours of thought.
This post was originally published on the World Vision Micro blog. Bob Ferretti is a passionate World Vision Micro partner. Through the sales of his company's amazing hot sauce, Hot Sauce 4 Good, he donates to many of our incredible entrepreneurs. Here is Bob's take on social impact and his encounter with the power of a Micro loan. * * *
I thought this would be easy - when we started our company we clearly laid out our mission - “We are committed to changing the world by supporting charities that feed the hungry, educate the poor and invest in hard working entrepreneurs in developing countries. To accomplish this we make great hot sauce.” That is our mission and we are true to it but what does it really mean? What is the result? What is our social impact?
As a gardener and someone who works very closely with farmers, I have a lot of discussions about sustainability - mostly referring to the way a farmer utilizes their land and resources to ensure that their crops will continue to grow and the soil be enriched from season to season. I have found that the word ‘sustainability’ has a much deeper meaning to me and to the work that I have chosen to do. The simplest definition of sustainability is ‘the ability for complex systems to endure.” Our work with World Vision Micro has taught me that sustainability is just the proverbial ‘tip of the iceberg.'While microfinance can lead to sustainability in a community, a microloan through World Vision Micro allows a community to not only sustain but to thrive.
This isn’t just talk - I have been blessed to see it and witness it firsthand. A little over a year ago my family and I traveled to Ethiopia to meet three entrepreneurs from three communities - one of which we actually had funded a microloan for the year before. We listened to their stories and were awed by what they had been able to do with their businesses. With Micro, the loan is just the beginning - what happens to the recipient, the family and the community is incredible and inspiring.
Now, I get the honor of introducing you to one of the entrepreneurs we met on our trip - his name is Neguse Yemane and this is his story.
What I love about Neguse and his family is how connected they are to their family and their entire village. Neguse has become one of the members of his community cooperative who not only brings his goods to the local market, but he works with other loan recipients on how to maximize their money. It’s amazing that it all started with a single small loan. For us, when we contributed to Neguse we were one of five donors to fund his loan.
When we first met and embraced, Neguse seemed shy and reticent but as the day wore on and we were able to talk (with the help of a translator). I could see why he has become such a success. One of the best moments of the trip for me was when I got to meet the cow that they purchased from the loan we had provided. Not only has the cow been an important source of income for them, he named it ‘blessed’ because when they received it they realized it was pregnant! BOGO (buy one, get one free)! What is our social imprint? How are we living our company’s mission? It’s not one thing - it’s everything we do - and that is scary and wonderful all at the same time. Just like the ripple-effect from a single loan that will be repaid and recycled into the community, our social imprint is ongoing.Our social imprint is every opportunity we have to answer the question “when did we see you hungry or in prison or thirsty”. It’s the effect that starts with one loan to one person has on one family in one community in one country on one continent in one world.