I’m Laura, EJ’s Team Leader, and I’ve been working with Yaro and the EJ Team for almost 3 years.
Since I joined EJ, my role has morphed into a mix of project manager, HR lady and head cheerleader for our growing team.
I still remember the first conversation I ever had with Yaro when I interviewed to join Team EJ in 2015.
Yaro had an idea he wasn’t sure what to do with. He wanted to take a percentage of every sale we made and reinvest it to support entrepreneurs in struggling economies around the world.
We weren’t sure how we would do it, or when, but I knew immediately this was a company I wanted to work for.
Then in the beginning of 2017, we were excited to finally bring this idea to life…
Throughout last year, EJ provided financial support to 412 entrepreneurs in 56 countries through the micro-lending platform, Kiva.org.
On Kiva, dozens of total strangers come together to loan money to entrepreneurs who live in places where financial support, training, and opportunity are limited.
The borrowers take out microloans to start or grow their businesses. These aren’t usually the Laptop Lifestyle businesses we talk about here on EJ; they are farmers in Kenya who need manure for their vegetable plantations, or tailors in Cambodia who want to upgrade their sewing machine.
As these entrepreneurs generate more income, they pay back their loans so we can re-lend the money to another entrepreneur in need.
It’s not a handout. It’s a proper business loan.
I’m really excited about this initiative because, having lived and worked within rural communities from Nepal to Honduras, I’ve seen first-hand how lending a little bit of money to ambitious individuals or groups can make an enormous and lasting impact on the lives of entire families and communities.
You Made This Possible
If you purchased a product or service from EJ in 2017, then you helped us support hundreds of entrepreneurs from Senegal to Samoa, to start or grow their businesses.
To give you an idea, 71% of those entrepreneurs were women, many of whom live in remote and rural areas or conflict zones. Our top 4 lending locations were Cambodia, Kenya, El Salvador and Tajikistan.
We lent most of our funds to businesses within the agricultural sector and services industry, with a focus on entrepreneurs providing nutritious food for their communities.
We also provided support to some families who needed clean water and basic sanitation, and some young students who want to complete their education.
All of these loans were made through the EJ Kiva Lending Team.
Here are some messages from the people you helped us support:
“Hasmik lacks the words to express all her feelings of gratitude. Due to your support, she paid for a barn renovation in order to provide the livestock with proper living space and conditions. After all these enhancements, the productivity of her livestock grew dramatically. Now her family has better living conditions and a stable source of income” – Hasmik, Armenia
“With this loan, we have begun purchasing of the raw material and equipment for our new organic cashew line! Our new roasting oven is en route now, the packages were delivered last week, and the Kenyan cashews will also soon be arriving – ready for roasting! We hope to have the cashews up on our website within a month, Amazon in 2 months and in stores within 3 months! Stay tuned!” – Mavuno Harvest group, Kenya
These are, without a doubt, some of our favorite achievements in what was already a successful 2017.
In 2018, we’re planning to take our micro-lending to the next level so if you want to be part of this journey, join EJ’s Kiva team and look out for more updates from me throughout the year.
Here’s to paying it forward,
Laura and Team EJ