My PR guy called me up to nag me the other day.
“You’re not blogging enough. You’re supposed to be a ‘Thought Leader’. It’s difficult to position you as such if you aren’t having any thoughts. People will begin to think of you as – “
“A ‘Thoughtless Leader”?”
I tried to give my usual excuse. I’ve been really busy lately.
“That’s what they all say. Look, I can’t do my job if you don’t do yours.”
“That’s right, put it on me.”
“The buck stops there.”
“One more cliché and I’m hanging up.”
But he beat me to it. Leaving me no alternative but to come up with a thought.
I went to Kansas City for a fundraiser last week, and afterwards met with two local entrepreneurs, one in the financial sector and the other of the social variety. Contrary to what some think, a ‘Social Entrepreneur’ is not someone who spends little time working and most of his time partying. The social entrepreneur was Gary White, CEO of Water.org, with whom FINCA is considering partnering in a water and sanitation project in Uganda. The financial entrepreneur was Bob Regnier, President and CEO and Bank of Blue Valley and a FINCA supporter. Bob is a ‘playah’ in the Kansas City entrepreneur space, financing entrepreneurs through both his bank and promoting new entrepreneurs through the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Also in attendance at the fundraiser were the Hatch brothers, Bob and John, who co-founded FINCA back in 1984. We talked about some of the exciting new things going on in our organizations, both in the heartland of the U.S. and internationally, where FINCA and Water.org work.
FINCA and Water.org got together a while back when we both realized that working together in Uganda made sense, given that Water.org has the engineering and technical know-how to connect more poor people in Uganda to clean water and sanitation, and FINCA has a client base of over 50,000 families who need these services. Add to that the fact that FINCA Uganda, a microfinance company, can bring financing to the table and you have the makings of an interesting partnership. We have undertaken a feasibility study and are working on developing a pilot project to see how this could work.
The Uganda collaboration is part of a wider effort to bring affordable products and services in the areas of renewable energy, education, healthcare, and agriculture to our clients called FINCA Plus. After 30 years of providing affordable financial services to low income families in 23 countries of Latin America, Africa, Eurasia, South Asia and the Middle East, we decided to leverage that experience in these other non-financial sectors. Since we aren’t experts in these areas, we have decided to partner with other social enterprises that have developed successful products and services and are looking for ways to scale them. In order to do that they need money, and that’s where FINCA can help. It helps that we also have a client base of 1.8 million potential customers.
Well, that’s my 500 words for today. You happy, Paul?