Certified B Corporation Thread is taking its commitment to end poverty by creating dignified jobs and responsible, high-quality fabrics to the next level with the announcement of a partnership with nonprofit Kiva. The startup, which transforms plastic bottles from the streets and canals of Haiti and Honduras into responsible fabrics, has used Kiva’s direct-to-social enterprise loan program to raise $10,000 for its zero-interest micro-loan program. The funds were raised by lenders on the Kiva site and paid directly to Thread, who will pay back the loan by May 2018.
The partnership builds on Thread’s zero interest micro-loan program, which it developed last May for its First Mile Entrepreneurs in its Haitian supply chain. Loan applications are received each month by Thread’s Haitian Field Manager and evaluated by the Impact team. Initially, Thread made up to $150 available per month to First Mile suppliers and collection center owners. Now, with $5,000 of the $10,000 raised through lenders on Kiva’s site, Thread will be able to increase this amount to $800.
“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,” said Kelsey Halling, Director of Impact and Sales.
The remaining $5,000 will be distributed to First Mile Entrepreneurs for projects that will improve their businesses and solve targeted issues that will have an impact in their communities. Vilner Geffrard and Nadine Phillipe are two of the First Mile Entrepreneurs who will receive funding. Geffrard’s center will begin to transport plastic for the underserved area of Leogane, while Phillipe will open two additional collection centers in Les Cayes.
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“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,” said Evan McElhinny, Impact Manager at Thread.
“Thread is like a doctor. They know the causes of the disease and they want to start the cure where it should be started,” said Phillipe.
Thread plans to share the success of the entrepreneurs and loan recipients in a new blog series, “Stories from the First Mile,” so that Thread’s community and lenders can connect with the suppliers in the First Mile of the Ground to Good™ supply chain. Thread will host a quarterly supplier meeting in Haiti on August 17th to discuss best practices for growing their businesses.