A recent article in the Wall Street Journal really is near and dear to my heart. It’s about KIVA, the micro-lending entity that is beginning operations in the United States, helping nascent entrepreneurs, with big ambition but more bite-sized dreams, accomplish those dreams through micro-loans. The significance, of course, is that we are now entering a world with a new normal in the economy – the reluctant entrepreneur.
You know who that reluctant entrepreneur is. That’s your friend who’s a middle manager that just got laid off from a large corporation, has been looking for work for a year, and now has decided he’s a consultant. Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t, but he’s certainly gonna give it a go, because he has to put food on the table.
It’s tough out there, and a lot more people are finding themselves in this same boat, hanging up a shingle, freelancing or starting a business, not because of some burning passion to see a particular vision or concept come into existence, but as a survival tactic. However, there is an underlying reality that even people who are clinging onto their W2 paychecks are in fact, in many ways just on an extended contract. In other words, they are really no more secure than the person who’s actually embraced the reality of their “entrepreneur-ness” or independence (or lack of security).
Which brings me to KIVA.
Kiva’s mission is to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty. Kiva empowers individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. By combining microfinance with the internet, Kiva is creating a global community of people connected through lending.
KIVA isn’t focused on white collar former executives starting 6 figure consultancies, but the principles are the same. To start something new, whatever your overall context, you need a little “seed corn”, some good ideas, a lot of hard work, and just the sense that you’re not all alone, and that you actually have people pulling for you.
So I commend KIVA for doing that for these micro-businesses in tough places for people who have truly meager resources. I also just want to extend a word of encouragement to all those reluctant entrepreneurs, (including many whom I know personally,) that this new way of living and earning a living might, in fact, be the best thing that ever happened. Of course, only the perspective of time will allow them to embrace that assessment, and I hope some of them will.
For those of you still looking for “traditional” work – here’s a nice post on using LinkedIn to do so from my friend Carla Bobka at SocialPie.