Tis the season to practice giving in the workplace. 

At Schooley Mitchell, we’ve always worked hard to ensure giving and gratitude are a part of our workplace culture. Not only do these values go hand-in-hand with what we do, but they make for a supportive workplace environment, where everyone is enthusiastic about helping one another.  

Recently, thanks to the generosity of one of our incredible franchisees, we were once again reminded of how powerful empathy and giving can be when practiced as a team.  

In this article, we explore a wonderful experience from the perspective of the staff at Schooley Mitchell Head Office.  

A generous Thanksgiving gift.  

One of our cherished Schooley Mitchell franchisees is David Dow of Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. Not only is David a genuine pleasure to work with, but the work he does with nonprofits in his professional and personal life is truly inspiring. In fact, we recently asked David to present on his experience with nonprofits at our annual Schooley Mitchell Conference; in true David fashion, he took the assignment and blew us all away with a thoughtful talk on the importance of empathy in our work.  

Needless to say, David’s personal commitment to his values is a big source of motivation for us here at Head Office. Part of this is because, every Thanksgiving, David has made the incredibly generous gift of donating in our name to a nonprofit he knows and trusts. 

This year, David gave both a donation and an incredible experience when he introduced us to Kiva. Founded in San Francisco in 2005, Kiva is an international nonprofit that “uses crowdfunded microloans as a force for good, creating a space where people can have one-to-one impact, and together, expand financial access for all.” 

David made a donation of $25 to every department at Schooley Mitchell Head Office, with the directive that each team do a bit of research into the different loans available on Kiva and choose a loan to give the donation to.

Teamwork and the Kiva process.  

Kiva has over four million borrowers across 79 countries worldwide. As you can imagine, there are countless loans to deserving recipients available, all asking for money for important local efforts. For example, one that stood out was a young man in Ghana, looking to raise money to provide his community with an accessible Wi-Fi hotspot, which would help many business and educational pursuits.  

The challenge for the teams at Schooley Mitchell Head Office was not to find a loan they wished to give their donation to, but rather to narrow the options down to just one. This meant each team had to sit down, discuss options, values, and try to find a solution that had meaning for them. 

Our Head Office team often feels like a big family; especially within our departments, our staff tend to be very close. However, doing an exercise like the one David’s donation afforded us, allowed us to become closer in a new way. Learning your coworkers’ values, which parts of the world they’re connected to, and what causes motivate them, are all part of the core of who everyone is but are not always a part of our day-to-day in the workplace.  

Each department also got to learn a little bit about the other teams on staff when we shared who we chose amongst ourselves and with David. Here are a few examples: 

  • Client Relations & File Prep – Susan, a single mother from Kenya, and a crop and dairy farmer of over seven years. Susan “will be using the loan to purchase farm inputs such as fertilizer and agrochemicals for growing onions and the rest to pay school fees for her children.” 
  • Waste – Carine from Kigali, Rwanda, is a 20-year-old student pursuing project and risk management and entrepreneurship at Kepler College. Carine’s loan will help her purchase a laptop for school, and aid in her goal of running “her own business to contribute to the country’s economy by paying taxes.” 
  • Telecom – Sunday is a refugee living in Yumbe, Uganda, and a father of six. With his loan, Yumbe plans to start a roosting place to sell chicken and eggs to “pay school fees and offer his family a better life.” 
  • Communication & Marketing – Gisele is a businesswoman living in the Lake Kivu region of Congo (DRC). She operates a pharmaceutical business which helps supply health centers around her region with crucial supplies.   
  • Franchise Development – Jean Marie is a businessman from Rwanda who has recently invested in a franchise location. His loan will allow Jean Marie to equip his franchise with a storefront build-out, staff training, and more. His business will “ensure access to basic human necessities, with water as an anchor product.” 
  • Programming – Farzona is a young businesswoman from Tajikistan working in cattle breeding. Her success and expertise so far have been very promising, and a loan will allow her to expand her business with more cattle.  

At Schooley Mitchell, our whole mission is helping businesses and business owners. Being able to expand this mission in a new way, across the globe, has been very meaningful for us.  

Generosity inspires generosity.  

Often, one generous and kind action can cause a chain reaction of kindness. That’s exactly what happened when David made his generous gift and tasked us with researching the individuals asking for loans through Kiva. Many staff members decided to contribute what they could, raising the initial gift to their department from David, and thereby increasing what their team could give to their chosen recipient.  

During a busy time of the year, when wallets are tight, members of staff, management, and senior leadership all came together to give. 

In total, with David’s gift and Schooley Mitchell’s contributions, we raised over $2,100 for various loans across the world. The best part is, when these loans are repaid, we get to re-give that same money again and again through Kiva, helping more incredible entrepreneurs across the world grow their businesses and help their regions thrive.  

In conclusion…  

Giving and gratitude have long been a part of the company culture at Schooley Mitchell, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love the occasional push to take more initiative. That’s just what our wonderful franchisee, David Dow, did by giving us an incredibly thoughtful Thanksgiving gift.  

For any team looking for a new way to get to know each other, work together, and refresh your attitude towards gratitude and giving, Kiva was a truly profound experience.