This is a guest blog post by aManda Greene, Co-Director of Youth SEED, a Kiva Zip Trustee.
The Bay Area has a rich tapestry of social innovation. There are numerous incubators and accelerators, three Impact HUBs and ample resources for adults dedicated to social and environmental advancement through enterprise. There is a gap, however, for our young innovators. It is our aim to fill that gap.
Youth Social Entrepreneurship for Equitable Development (SEED), based in Oakland, CA, supports the development of community-led social enterprises by providing training, resources and investments to young innovators who traditionally face barriers to economic opportunities.
Originally known as Ashoka's Youth Venture San Francisco Bay Area, Youth SEED was created to advance a unique model of using youth social entrepreneurship as a vehicle for civic engagement and equitable development. In our first 3 years, we gave social entrepreneurship training to Bay Area youth, from which 25 social enterprises were funded and launched.
We have had a relationship with Kiva since our inception. Matt Flannery, Kiva's Co-Founder, was our keynote speaker at the first annual Community Panel, an event where youth entrepreneurs pitch their enterprises. Since then, it was clear that Kiva would have a relationship with young entrepreneurs in Oakland. The only questions were when and how.
Once Youth SEED was firmly established a couple years later, we approached Matt, and he directed us to the Kiva Zip team. After being introduced to the concept and process of becoming a Kiva Zip Trustee, we knew that this was a unique opportunity to bring a great resource to young entrepreneurs in the Bay Area. It took us a few months until we were ready to endorse our first borrower, and the Kiva Zip team was encouraging, responsive and incredibly supportive.
Youth SEED's first endorsed borrower was Simphony Productions, a youth-led multimedia production company. We met this group of young men through a partnership with United Roots, a Media Arts organization in Oakland. Each member of the team excelled in a particular area of media, film, photography, and sound engineering. They formed Simphony Productions to start a multimedia firm, as they say, "with the industry quality without the industry price."
Simphony is able to borrow most of the necessary equipment from United Roots; however, the group needed a stronger web presence, data storage capacity and to expand their brand. They needed a loan, and we decided to endorse them because they demonstrated that they are a committed and responsible group of young men. They have shown leadership and dedication to the creation and development of their business venture and have invested their time and personal resources to the development of their production company.
We worked closely with Simphony to develop a budget and manage their expenses. After creating their Kiva Zip profile, their $1,000 loan was fully funded in just eight days by lenders from North America to as far as Australia. It was an opportunity for them to see that people believe in their talent, in the work they are developing and, most importantly, in them. The Kiva Zip loan was and will continue to be a victory for them.
From our four years of engaging in youth social entrepreneurship in the Bay Area, it is clear that there is an abundance of young people with the dedication, skill, passion and determination to contribute to their communities in a positive way; however, there is still a lack of support and resources to guide and cultivate this energy. Our relationship with Kiva Zip is an invaluable contribution to the ecosystem of resources for these young leaders to succeed and thrive.
There are many bright and innovative ideas here in the Bay Area; we look forward to continuing our Trustee role with Kiva Zip in order to offer more resources, support and a wider platform for our young leaders.
To learn more about youth social entrepreneurship in the Bay Area or how you can get involved to support these young leaders, visit us at www.bayareayouthseed.org. You can make a loan to an entrepreneur on Kiva Zip by clicking here!
Author Bio: aManda Greene, Youth SEED Co-Director, was raised between the Bay Area and Brazil. Since 2003 she has been involved in various arts and environmental educational programs in Santa Fé NM, Oakland, Bahia Brazil and Southern India. She holds a B.A. in Culture, Ecology and Sustainable Communities and is currently pursuing a degree in Sustainable Enterprise (Green MBA) driven by the belief that the current paradigm of 'development' can be transformed into one that is valued based on ecological stability and social equity. She helped establish Youth SEED's relationship with Kiva Zip as a Trustee and is a lender herself!