Social enterprise offers virtuous circle around loans, production, connections in a ‘fair trade ecosystem’
In short, The Hoop Fund enables participants to meet the makers of products we buy, invest in their businesses and become part of the prosperity of their communities.
More than 150 people packed into The Hub San Francisco last night for the “friends and family” debut of The Hoop Fund, founded by entrepreneur (and former journalist) Kevin Doyle Jones, the impresario behind the Social Capital Markets conference coming up Oct. 4-6 in San Francisco. Lots of familiar faces there — Gary Bolles, Sarah Kennon, Shannon Clark, Arabella Santiago — and I got to meet two of the principals behind The Hoop Fund: CEO Patrick Donohue and operations chief Maia Hirschbein.
The Hoop Fund is one of those ideas that you have to see in action to really appreciate. A slide presentation showing how it’s already making a difference in villages in Peru really drove home its message of entrepreneurial opportunities in the developing world. With the Hoop, you can support producers through a loan (I just made a $50 loan to Indigenous Designs), purchasing their fair trade products through a partnering brand, and then spreading the word to your own networks and community. Jones calls it a “fair trade ecosystem.”
Here’s a quick 2-minute video with Maia taken at the event — incidentally, my first-ever video taken with my new iPhone 4:
Watch, download, embed or share the video on Vimeo
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The Hoop goes beyond what Kiva does
The idea is: Pick a project on www.jointhehoop.com and make your first loan. (“We want to prove that the Hoop will change the world through meaningful and powerful connections. Help us do that!” Maia says.) Next, share your action with your friends and help build the Hoop community.
Among the projects now open for investment:
Medicinal plants garden project
Length: 2 years
Location: Alto Huayabama, San Martin, Peru
Purchase of handloom knitting machine
Length: 18 months
Location: Arequipa, Peru
You can contribute in small amounts if you’d like — say, $25.
Yes, it’s similar in some ways to the brilliantly successful Kiva.org. Co-founder Donohue told me the Hoop seeks to fill the virtuous circle by answering the question, After you make your loan, then what? The Hoop connects you with the very cool brands that the funded small business people and farmers create or work with, and then it provides the social tools to help you spread the word to your friends and colleagues.
Really, it’s an exciting idea, and I’m jazzed to do whatever small part I can to help it along.
JD Lasica, founder and former editor of Socialbrite, is co-founder of Cruiseable. Contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.