The garage has been hectic and fun as the boys have been busy for two weeks pushing product. We are turning heads during snack periods as we have been open for business now 6 days. Some products have sold out, some products have been reordered, some products have just begun and of course, some businesses are already in panic mode. It's all happening, just as it should.
The overall driving question of the year remains, "How Can We Model MicroFinance in Our Own Community?". But, here are a few things you may NOT know about what's happening in the garage simultaneously.
- We have two loans through KIVA already, thanks to the generous support of the 7th and 8th grade Kiva Council. Do you know that we use these borrowers to reflect on throughout our journey? As students struggle within their own small businesses we reflect on how this would feel outside the walls of Town School. What would it feel like if "our lives depended on it" or "this was our first big break". We may have a unique opportunity to meet one of these initial borrowers too. Gary lives here in San Francisco. How cool would it be to be able to not only reflect on what it may feel like to be a real kiva borrower but actually be able to talk and empathize with one? Gary and Maria have paid us back a combined 10% of our initial investment and are on schedule.
- The boys of Town have paid back 22% of their initial loans. Different from years past, I asked the boys to put themselves on a strict repayment schedule with the first repayment due exactly one month after all funds were received. Seeing that one company hadn't even gotten their product until the day before the first repayment date, it's safe to say we had to have a few important discussions. How would/could our lending community help the team that may not have money to pay back their loan? We reflected on the One Hen simulation and how we could either lend them the money and/or purchase their product quickly to help the situation. The choice was clear... t-shirts were purchased from Custom Klothes.
- Do you know that the 6th grade boys (participating in the project) are only allowed to purchase one product from our market place during the first few weeks? I want to make sure that we are not self sufficient and that we actually do rely on other members of our community. They think it's unfair as initial products begin selling out and they don't have the means to buy one. But, we can't have everything and if we are modeling global community members in need of loans we need to recognize that we wouldn't have the money to buy all these goods either. It's a hard lesson but it's necessary. To model how hard it can be to run a business and how hard life is when you need to make decisions on spending this is important.
- The 6th grade boys have begun advertising their products and the fun has just begun. Do you know that the boys are charged $0.09 for a black and white copy and $0.49 for a color copy? The money that we use for advertising goes into a special bank envelope and it's all donated to kiva.org for overhead costs. It's a reciprocal relationship in that regard and a great lesson in teaching the boys about non profit organizations.
- We haven't even tapped into the lower school community. This double campus thing kind of hurts in terms of our project. However, it's my belief that we should not tap in until we have an opportunity to educate the younger boys about kiva and where the money from these small businesses is going. So we need a plan. The driving question:
HOW CAN WE EDUCATE OUR COMMUNITY ABOUT MICRO FINANCE AND OUR COMPANIES PURPOSE/MISSION IN THE HOPES THAT THEY WILL FURTHER SUPPORT AS CUSTOMERS AND POTENTIAL LENDERS OF THEIR OWN?
This is kind of BIG. This is kind of HEAVY. But in the next 3 weeks we will tackle it alongside traditional geometry (which will be taught in a blended learning style). The boys have already started thinking as they have "begged" to hit the lower school for an onsite visit. Brochures, Prezi's, Movies... a lot of voice and choice and a lot of room for education, leadership and fun. Bring it!