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Watch Out Boomers--This is How Gen Y Gets It Done

Kiva5_2 A few months ago I wrote a post entitled, Note to the Next Generation of Leaders: Don't Wait for Baby Boomers to Hand Over the Reins. In it, I suggested some strategies for Gen X and Y leaders to develop themselves. One of my thoughts was to get "disruptive"--start your own organization to do it better, rather than trying to get your foot in the door of an existing one.

Now I see,  via Guy Kawasaki,  a great profile on Matt and Jessica Flannery, the 20-something founders of Kiva, which in a few short years has become a powerhouse of micro-lending:

What makes Kiva different from other microlenders? “If you have $10,000 to lend, you have many options,” says Matt, ’00, MA ’01. “If you have $25 to lend, this is the only option.”

People are lining up. In fact, Kiva has so many lenders—more than 123,000 extending $12.4 million to some 18,000 entrepreneurs in 39 countries—that it recently limited each participant to $25 per business, “so that everyone has a chance to make a Kiva loan.” After two years in operation, Kiva attracts $1.5 million a month, Matt says. The impact is bigger than it looks, notes Jessica, MBA ’07, because “each loan is touching 15 people, whether it’s other workers in the business, or family.”

A great story, but what really caught my attention was this:

Significantly, the 16 full-time employees at Kiva’s offices in San Francisco’s Mission district are mostly in their 20s and 30s. (The organization has some 250 active volunteers.) This generation’s idealism tends to be more global, more strategic, more entrepreneurial than previous generations, with a good deal of media/marketing savvy. Matt says his contemporaries are “not looking to make a lot of money, retire and give it away. We’re looking to live our whole life in an integrated way. It’s not a binary approach.”

Seems like those Gen X and Gen Y folks are figuring out that they don't necessarily need to "pay their dues" or wait their turn. They're seizing their own opportunities. And doing a lot of good in the process.

I think it's something for existing organizations to consider--aren't Matt and Jessica exactly the kinds of people you would have wanted working for you? The bigger question is are you creating the kind of environment that appeals to young people with this kind of initiative and talent?


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Kiva is a remarkable site. They were certainly one of the inspirations for Bring Light. We aggregate micro-donations to help charities raise funds and help donors see the results of their donations. Lots of Gen X and Gen Y people want to make a difference, but have relatively small amounts to give. We enable them to make a tangible difference.

Glad to see Kiva's continued success.

- Drew

Drew McManus
Bring Light

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