It’s that time of year again. The glorious phase of 5th grade wherein my offspring get a healthy dose of mission-driven business ethos. I know this because my own, enterprising 5th grader — the second 5th grader I’ve had — has recently begun concocting a number of seemingly get-rich-quick schemes. Most of them involve some element of illegality, though nothing that would likely trigger a long stretch of hard time in the clink. More a matter of conducting some commercial activity without a required permit in a venue that probably does require a permit.
Everett’s mom and I are fully onboard, however. Because this particular scheme has nothing to do with getting rich quickly. Nor getting rich at all. Well, depends upon what your definition of “rich” is.
It’s Kiva Time, you see. A courageous crowdfunding nonprofit founded over a decade ago, Kiva facilitates massive scale micro-lending to otherwise marginalized borrowers in 80 countries. People have lent nearly $1B through Kiva over the years, and the impact is pretty mind-blowingly fantastic. Think a $500 loan that allows a former Indian child bride to jumpstart her sari-weaving business and gain a foothold towards financial independence. Or a Bedouin mother raising five kids in a West Bank refugee camp smack in the middle of one of the oldest cities on the planet. She raises sheep and goats for meat and milk. Sixty nine souls lent her $2,000 via Kiva. Six newly-acquired pregnant sheep gave birth to more sheep, and this means a growing business in an otherwise economically barren landscape.
I’m not making this stuff up. And I’m barely scratching the surface. Particularly in our own current political climate, Kiva’s work moves anyone to tears. Feels like the antidote to the toxic nonsense being conjured up within 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. (Quick peach box (lemonade crate?) digression: I suspect that Hilary and I will look more closely at Kiva borrowers tonight — a great way to cap off a weekend of re-upping our The New York Times subscription, and making modest donations to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. Every little bit helps.)
OK, enough with the heavy stuff. That’s not why you’re here, right? You’re here because I am a bad father. The kind who spies his 11 year-old’s earnest, handwritten notes re: Kiva planning. And promptly turns said notes from a perfectly-timed, heartwarming oasis into something about which blog readers may guiltily giggle. A little. (Ev, don’t worry, they’re not giggling at you.)
Everett and his classmates have been tasked with raising $30 in small groups, then applying those funds to a Kiva borrower. Ev and two chums held a “conference call” yesterday, during which they chewed through a few ideas as to how the three of them would raise the requisite $30. At the risk of Everett running away from home tonight with a bulging sack of Legos slung over his shoulder, here are Ev’s meeting notes, scratched in pencil on a lined sheet of paper I found about an hour ago on our living room coffee table —
I’m really really hoping that #4 comes up big. Because, first, Everett is totally spot-on about the critical importance of advertising when it comes to pulling off a successful yard sale. I’m going to limit my reservation to agreeing with his conclusion on that particular hurdle. The “gathering” piece sends a little shiver up my spine. I don’t even want to think about what sort of treasured family belongings he and his buddies would splay out for the hocking on a wool blanket up on Chestnut Street. I’m guessing Ev would use the opportunity to exact some vengeance on his older brother. And that Hilary or I would be consigned to an expensive trip to Sports Basement in order to replace Max’s prized gear. So no yard sale.
Second, we clearly need to up the “wow factor” of Everett’s chores. First, I will need to apologize to him. To this point, I have evidently failed to deliver up a Cirque du Soleil-level squeeze of the adrenals when it comes to his one chore of clearing four soiled plates from the dinner table each night. Perhaps I can borrow a chainsaw, a couple electric eels, and an oversized disco ball from neighbors. We are looking for some sizzle, people, on a go forward basis!
Last, yes, Everett and his pals could walk THEIR own dogs. If his project mates are anything like Everett, however, I suspect that none of them ever walks THEIR dogs. A subtle prompt to the effect, “You know, Wailea is your dog too. Why don’t you take her for a walk around the block?” will elicit sudden dramatic complaints of deep thigh pain, overwhelming homework, or a bout of fake-napping. In this context, no, I don’t believe anyone will pay these lenders-to-be for walking THEIR own damned dogs. Now, you want to talk about taking on Poop Bag Duty for a week? To whom do I make out MY check?
Thanks for reading.