Small businesses are the backbone of any healthy economy. At Charter Recycling we do business with the suppliers of many entrepreneurs and small business people in South America, Africa, as well as parts of the U.S.
The used clothing we collect from bins around the country is condensed into 800-1000 pound bales and sold for pennies on the pound to suppliers in Africa and South America, as well as domestically.
A Different Kind of Startup
Most of this secondhand clothing then ends up in the market stalls of small merchants in open air markets or street fairs. Many of these small businesses are run by families who are trying to break out of the cycle of poverty. Successful stall owners and street fair merchants eventually end up opening bigger ventures – small hotels, restaurants, and retail stores.
A New Kind of Investor
Kiva.org is a microfinance website which connects lenders with small businesses and individuals on five continents. Any individual can go on this website and choose a business to lend to. As the loans are repaid, lenders can re-lend these funds. Loans can be as little as $10, and many of the loan requests are in $1000. range, and these small businesses can do a tremendous amount with very little.
Third world or underdeveloped countries are the kings of small business. Kiva reports a 98.94% repayment rate—a number that far exceeds any American lender.
“When a small business is successful, that can really have a life-changing effect for the family of a business owner,” says Fiona Ramsey, public relations director at Kiva.org. “Microfinance is about giving somebody a tool—financial services—so they can create something sustainable long after your loan is repaid.”
Investing vs. Donating
Instead of flooding a deprived area with non-specific and sporadic donations and free goods, we and others like us supply these micro-businesses with a low cost product that they can mark up and sell for a profit.
We’ve all heard the common expression:
“Give a man a fish, he will eat for a day; but teach him to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime.”
When a small business does well, it’s not only good for the local economy, but beneficial for local and national governments, peace making efforts, and domestic harmony. In short, when people are proud of the work they do and take care of their families, they are happier, healthier, as well as more productive and peaceful.
So…when you put your clothing in a collection bin, you’re making the world go round a little more smoothly. Now that’s a good reason to get rid of that pink paisley shirt…just one of many.