Happy new year! We mark the start of each year with a reflection of how far we’ve come: It was over the New Year’s holiday that the seed for the Barefoot MBA was planted, in 2006-07. Since then we’ve reached every continent, including our first website hit from Antarctica last month.
In 2019 we gave our website a much-needed facelift, maintaining its content but reorganizing to make it more quickly and intuitively accessible even on the most stubborn connections — critical as the Barefoot MBA becomes more and more self-sustaining. Even as our hands-on involvement has declined, our mission and commitment remain as strong as over that New Year’s 13 years ago.
Our hope for the coming year is that our tool continues to reach entrepreneurs who need it — and that you continue to share with us stories of how it does so we can share them here.
If you’d like to help, or know someone who might, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also like us on Facebook.
We are pleased and proud to launch our new website design. All of our existing content is still here, just more organized and, we hope, intuitive. We hope this new look inspires new partnerships and rejuvenates existing ones.
Our relaunch coincides with the 12th anniversary of our Barefoot MBA pilot in Thailand. Some cultures mark 12 as a coming of age year; we are marking it with a website that has finally come of age.
We have been eager to refresh the look of our site for some time. Thanks to Dawn and Adrian for their time and good humor in making that happen.
We welcome your feedback.
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.
The social entrepreneur who inspired the Barefoot MBA, Mechai Viravaidya, is the subject of a new blog post by Bill Gates.
Mechai’s work has had a lasting effect in Thailand and beyond, and we’re pleased to see his name in mainstream U.S. sources. Of course, we don’t need Bill Gates to tell us Mechai is a hero!
Nine years! We’ve come a long way since our first curriculum pilot in Thailand in the summer of 2007.