As you may (or may not) know, Mr. Yarnista (aka Big Mike Mike) is a pretty darn good guy. Like, a really good guy. When we opened Firefly Fibers in the spring of 2010, I was quite honestly... TERRIFIED. (And this is a huge understatement.) I left a well-paying, comfortable job that not only provided benefits like health insurance, vacation & sick time, but also regular paycheck. I want to say that we "gave things up", but the truth is, we just had to put things like days off, family vacations, and extra spending "on hold" while I focused on getting the shop up and running.
I wasn't ever confident that I could make this work (starting a new business is never a sure thing), but Mike was betting on me and that kept pushing me forward, especially on the hard days. Over the last 8 years, he has never wavered in his reassurance that I could (and would) be successful as an entrepreneur. Today, I'm barely able to keep up with the knitters (some days I can't) and I'm so proud of and thankful for Firefly Fibers and its knitting community. Ya'll are the best!
So, what does this have to do with "Girl Power"? Well, I know that not every woman has the support, encouragement, or financial opportunity from their partner, friends, or family to go out on a limb and take a chance on a life-changing career path. And... today is International Women's Day, so I'd like to pay it forward and help other women be successful. Did you know that the first National Women's Day was in 1909 (in the United States) after women protested working conditions in the garment industry and the United Nations started celebrating it in 1975 during International Women's Year? More dates here on the United Nations website and even more on International Women's Day here on the official website.
International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. International Women's Day (IWD) has occurred for well over a century, with the first arch WD gathering supported by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. https://www.internationalwomensday.com/
Over the last few weeks, Mr. Yarnista's kind heart has been focused on International Women's Day and he shared his beautiful idea during our last podcast - to help other women around the world achieve their entrepreneurial dreams via micro-lending with the Firefly Fibers lending team on kiva.org! Of course, we're partial to women in the textile industry, but lending to anyone (man or woman in any industry) to help them achieve their entrepreneurial dreams is the end goal.
WHAT IS MICRO-LENDING? Sometime in the early 2000's, I read Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Yunus and was moved by how a small amount of money (a micro-loan) can literally change someone's life (he also inspired the Kiva founders). Unfortunately, Kiva wasn't yet born at that time and micro-lending wasn't a matter a of just a few clicks on the Internet to help someone on the other side of the world. Thankfully, Kiva has changed that and is changing lives $25 (or more) at a time.
HOW DOES KIVA WORK AND IS IT SAFE? Yes, there's always a chance that a loan could default, but Kiva has a 96.9% loan repayment rate (when they repay, your money is returned and you can loan it out to someone else) and they've been around since 2005. Read more about the loan process and how it works here on kiva.org. Mr. Yarnista has yet to have a loan default. *knock on wood*
AM I LOANING ON KIVA? We both are! Mike's been at it for a while (he actually gave Kiva gift cards to family members as Christmas gifts this year) and I signed up for a Kiva lending account today, joined the Firefly Fibers team, and set up 2 loans in less than half an hour.
In keeping with International Women's Day, I loaned $25 each to help these women achieve their loan fulfillment (click through to read more about each, to see their loan progress, and support them):
Again, as a woman-owned and operated business, Mike and I want to help other women in the textile industry achieve their entrepreneurial dreams, but we/you can loan to anyone!
I hope this has inspired you to join our Kiva team and support entrepreneurs around the world! If you have any questions about micro-lending (or anything else really), just leave us a comment.