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Why I Adopted the Salesforce 1-1-1 Philanthropy Model

A group of multiple people wearing a "Volunteer" shirt and joining hands in a huddle

Cross-posted from

Positive Lending Solutions is a start-up finance-broker trying to survive in a challenging market. Getting the initial momentum for my business took a lot of persistence and innovative thinking. I’ve become aware that there are aspiring entrepreneurs in disadvantaged countries who face significant challenges getting access to funding to give their ideas momentum. So at Positive Group, I’ve made the commitment to give 1% of our time, 1% of our profit and 1% of our product to make a difference in the world around us, locally and internationally.

I learnt about the 1-1-1 model when I attended the Dreamforce Conference in 2011. I was inspired by Marc Benioff’s passion and dedication to the cause. Now I have established a scalable finance business, I chose to adopt this model. I’m confident that even as a small to medium enterprise, Positive Group will be able to honour the pledge, as the commitment will always remain proportional to the size of the enterprise.

The initial outreach for Positive Group was a $5000 donation to TIA. I set up a way to keep funds flowing to TIA by requesting a 50c donation from staff for each cup of coffee, and a $2 donation for our monthly casual day. Every dollar does make a difference, and my staff are enthusiastic in participating.

TIA (Spanish for áunty’) is a non-profit organisation established here in South Australia. It’s purpose is to provide mentoring for 5000 young people in Bolivia to smooth their transition from state orphanages to independence when they turn 18.

The staff at Positive Group have decided to support PARAQUAD SA, the peak community body supporting people in SA with spinal cord injury. I’m not just giving money, but going the extra mile, pledging staff time and skill to both TIA and to PARAQUAD. I want to share the technology that we use and customise it to improve their processes.

At an international level, I’ve decided to dedicate money to Kiva, the first nonprofit to leverage the power of the internet and a world-wide network of micro-finance institutions. Kiva give people access to funds when they need them, allowing them to repay the loan without interest, as their business grows. They actually have a 98.42% loan repayment rate. Once the loan is repaid, you can withdraw the funds, or use them to fund another loan and help another venture.

My staff selected three individuals to fund with the initial donation:

The first of these is Linet, from Kitale in Kenya. She requested a loan of $150 to buy a water tank to store clean water for domestic use. She operates a retail business selling bread, flour, sugar and other items for her local customers.

The second is Allan, a 33 year old hard working entrepreneur from Kamwenge in Uganda. He runs a welding store in his hometown, and supplements his income with other business ventures such as farming to support his three children. The loan will be used to purchase additional stock of welding materials to sell. Allan faces many challenges, such as inadequate capital to meet increasing demand, customers who don’t pick up and pay for their order, and employees who cause detriment to business.

The third is Joyce, a 57 year old hard-working widow with four children. The money from the loan will be used to complete construction of the rental houses. She has been in the rental business for 14 years, earning an income of KES 70,000 each month. She hopes to use the profits to purchase a laptop and other stationery her daughter will need for college. This is Joyce’s seventh Kiva loan, and she has serviced her previous loans well. We expect that she will repay this loan quickly and enable us to re-use the funding for another loan!

The Positive Group plan to officially launch the Positive Pathways program in Feb 2016 with a launch event that will be announced over the coming weeks. I’ve chosen to give back through the 1-1-1 model as I believe that it plays an important role in setting the tone and culture within my organisation.

The management team at Positive Group definitely recommend that businesses of any size consider taking the 1% Pledge. The promise has opened a dialogue amongst my staff, enhancing internal relationships. It gives the company a chance to work together on something positive, and to focus on the bigger world picture as participants in the global community.

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