More sewing machines

Our hypothetical sewing machine example has become reality yet again. When we created the Barefoot MBA, we created and frequently told the story of a hypothetical seamstress who could exponentially increase productivity if only she had the tools to think about how — it wasn’t just the speed at which she could sew additional pants but also the wherewithal to think about sewing shirts too.

That was 2007. Over the years the story has resonated with our borrowers and also sophisticated social entrepreneurs.

We made it a reality by participating in a Kiva loan to Lisney, a dressmaker in Colombia, to buy a sewing machine and build her business. Lisney repaid her loan in full, and we have subsequently loaned to Vitolia in Samoa and Maria Esperanza in El Salvador (twice!), all to support sewing machines. We also have loaned to Shoira in Tajikistan, another seamstress, to buy a car for her husband so he can work as a taxi driver and generate a second income for their family. All have repaid or are on track to repay their loans.

We support these seamstresses not just for their sewing abilities but also for their ability to think beyond their machines and materials to create better lives for themselves and their families.

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