Changing The World. $25 at a Time.

I had a fascinating breakfast yesterday with two entrepreneurs who exemplify all that is great about the capacity for small businesses to make a big difference.

Each in their own and very distinctive ways have built something extraordinary from nothing, developed careers, supported families and causes, changed the way we see the world, and have done so with decency, integrity and humanity.

And based on our conversation, they’re not done yet.

It was a very invigorating beginning to the day. And as I walked back to my office I thought, not for the first time, that entrepreneurs have recognizable DNA.

A truth which came thundering home when a friend sent me this link last night.

Kiva is an association that lets you lend money to a specific entrepreneur with one simple goal.

To lift them out of poverty.

The picture on the front page is of Nulu Nabunya, a 50 year old Ugandan widow with four children, who is looking for a $525 loan to help her build her knitting business. She has already borrowed and repaid twenty loans and her ambition is to own a sweater factory.

There are 870 entrepreneurs showcased, in countries from Cambodia to Togo, from Mongolia to Peru. Their funding requests range from $385 to $2500.

As I looked at some of the pictures, I was struck by three things.

1. All entrepreneurs are impacted by the same issues. Concept. Customers. Cash flow. And Credit.

Get any one of them wrong and we’re out of business.

2. The ability to see a better future does not require specific economic, geographic, cultural, educational or environmental conditions.

It requires a willingness to believe in the possible.

3. Entrepreneurs live in the real world. Where the ideal meets the practical.

And today, I for one have a different appreciation of what both words mean.