Thriive: Building Prosperity and Self-Sufficiency in Global Communities

 
Young students at a school in Nicaragua receive donated backpacks from a Thriive business. Thanks to the donations, enrollment at this school has doubled.

As a partner of the 3rd Creek Foundation, Thriive has grown from a grassroots program to an international non-profit operating 5 programs in 4 different countries with additional expansion on the horizon. 3rd Creek has been especially instrumental in the success of our Nicaragua program. Based on a handful of beliefs and a small group of motivated individuals and foundations, Thriive is now impacting the lives of thousands of people across the globe!

At Thriive we believe in coupling the power of free markets with a commitment to social justice. We believe in an interconnected global economy that pursues shared prosperity and stability. And we believe in the dignity and potential of challenged global communities to become more self-reliant.

So what do we do with all these beliefs? We head to Nicaragua, Vietnam, Kenya, and Palestine with the combination of two important components: Capital and Compassion. First, we provide ThriiveCapital loans for viable small business entrepreneurs to increase their production equipment. We also provide technical support through our local partner organizations, helping to create new jobs and increase incomes.

Next, we insert Compassion as the basis for our dynamic ThriiveCapital system, where entrepreneurs repay - or rather pay forward - the equipment loans with equivalent donations of products, services, and/or job training to community members in need. The majority of entrepreneurs are so inspired by the impact their gifts have on others that they continue to give even after the loan has been repaid, thereby transforming the local business culture to one that employs donations to help fortify their communities. In this way, business growth becomes tied to becoming socially responsible and assisting the less fortunate in their communities. By spreading greater prosperity and employment, Thriive contributes to alleviating poverty and making communities more resilient.

 
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With support from 3rd Creek Foundation, Veronica Yadira Bucardo, owner of IKO Imagen Textiles in Nicaragua shows us what difference a small business can make in her community.

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Small businesses represent one of the most underutilized approaches to reducing poverty and expanding economic opportunity in developing economies. The so-called “missing middle” refers to small businesses with limited employees that are too big for traditional microfinance, yet too small to secure manageable commercial credit. Such small businesses account for the overwhelming majority of employment and economic activity in most developing countries, but face constraints to growth due to lack of access to capital. By directly addressing the need for affordable capital, Thriive helps small businesses create new jobs, lift more people out of poverty, raise standards of living, and promote greater socioeconomic stability through more meaningful and widespread economic growth.

 
Silvio Cerda, owner of Sastrería Alren Textiles in Nicaragua, trained and hired this young woman to sew uniforms at his business. Now she can support herself and her family.

Thriive’s core belief is that the small business sector can and must represent a force for good in its communities by delivering on social impact objectives as well as financial. There are many vehicles for societal giving in our program areas—at the family, church, or neighborhood/community level, for example—but no culture of small business charity or philanthropy. By requiring small businesses to repay their ThriiveCapital loans through in-kind charitable donations of product, services, or job training to the poor, Thriive is creating cultures of small business giving where none previously existed, fortifying challenged communities and helping them become more self-sufficient and resilient.


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Laurel Williams joined Thriive as Chief Operating Officer in January 2013. Prior to Thriive, Laurel was a Branch Manager at Bank of America in Boise, ID. Her switch in career paths came after volunteering for Thriive in from 2010 – 2012 and realizing the opportunity to positively impact lives around the world. Laurel has a BA in Mathematics with a business administration focus from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA. Her philanthropic interests include the empowerment of women, environmental sustainability, and the education and wellbeing of children.