HP Employees Become Angel Investors for Social Good
“Set out to build a company and make a contribution, not an empire and a fortune.”
–HP founders Bill Hewlett and David Packard
We’ve worked as a direct marketing agency of record for Hewlett-Packard for a long time. As a purpose-driven marketing firm, one of the aspects we’ve always valued about our relationship with HP is its legacy of strong commitment for corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability. See some of our HP work here.
You see, Bill Hewlett and David Packard were every bit as innovative in their thinking about a corporation’s social responsibility as they were with their groundbreaking products in the marketplace. The famous garage that gave birth to Silicon Valley and one of the world’s most successful technology companies also gave rise to one of the planet’s most committed corporate citizens.
The two founders made HP’s first recorded charitable contribution the year after the company’s founding and in 1957 added global citizenship to the list of corporate objectives.
Global citizenship remains a core part of the company’s identity, which is communicated by its Living Progress framework. What’s interesting to see is how the next/now generation of HP is applying innovative thinking via microfinance and technology to fulfill its purpose-driven global citizenship.
The HP Foundation recently initiated a five-year partnership with Kiva, an online lending platform that connects lenders with entrepreneurs in third-world countries. Lenders—individuals like you and me—make loans of as little as $25 directly to entrepreneurs, who then use the proceeds to fuel their growing businesses. The loans are repaid; Kiva states that loans made from its platform have a nearly 99% repayment rate.
Partnering with Kiva, the HP Foundation is fueling “Matter to a Million,” an initiative to help 1 million entrepreneurs fund their business dreams. It is engaging every active HP employee by providing each of them with a credit of $25 to lend to a small business owner on the platform.
Here’s what I like about this initiative. It enables HP to use its global heft to set the vision and oversee the initiative with Kiva—and to seed employee giving with those $25 grant credits. Then, instead of HP making a unilateral corporate philanthropy decision with a single, large investment, it empowers individual employees by enabling them to decide where the money goes. It also puts a face on philanthropy—you’re giving to an actual person with a personal story and need rather than to a nonprofit institution. You get even more bang for the buck when you consider that HP employees are often adding their own money to the loans.
The effort bolsters internal goodwill and motivation among HP employees. This includes a social conversation component on the HP Kiva team page, with a large number of participants expressing positive comments such as this one from Ruth Nelson, an HP employee based in Brisbane, Australia:
“Just made my loan in this wonderful program. Not only did I make a loan but I got to be the last person to fund the project I chose. I am so excited that, through the generosity of this program, we are able to make a difference. Can't wait to tell everyone I work with.”
The results so far are impressive. As of this writing, nearly 119,000 HP team members have made more than 172,000 loans amounting to more than $5.5 million. That indicates that each HP employee is adding more than $20 of their own money to the credit given by the company for an average loan amount of nearly $46.
You can learn more about the HP initiative by viewing its launch video here. And while you’re at it, why not visit the Kiva site and make a loan yourself or support the nonprofit organization with a donation, which helps enable Kiva to ensure that 100% of the micro-loans to go directly to the entrepreneur.
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