Join the FITE

Earlier this month, Kiva co-launched an exciting new campaign to help empower women, together with Dermalogica and other strategic partners called JoinFITE. FITE stands for “Financial Indepence Through Entrepreneurship” and is focused on helping women worldwide start and grow a business.

The campaign has since been covered in BusinessWeek, FastCompany, and the Huffington Post.

Jane Wurwand, the 52-year-old founder of skin-care product maker Dermalogica started 25 years ago with $14,000 and built a business with customers in 87 countries and more than $200 million in annual revenue. She’s an incredible woman I’ve heard speak through my involvement with Step Up Women’s Network. She is dedicated to helping women in business and support entrepreneurship and this is an amazing partnership and campaign to highlight that commitment.

Dermalogica is donating $500,000 to help fund microloans to women through Kiva. Wurwand just stepped down as chief executive officer of Dermalogica to focus her attention on the microlending campaign. According to Jane:

It’s so authentic to our industry. Every spa and salon owner has said it feels like their story. Each of them started with a small amount of money and built their success through that. They know as a woman what it means to be financially independent.

The project will involve promotions on five of Dermalogica’s top-selling products, including skin cleansers, microfolients, and eye creams, that consumers can redeem online to contribute $1 to a Kiva loan. Wurwand hopes consumers will add to the credits with donations of their own, and aims to facilitate microloans to at least 25,000 entrepreneurs in two years. Unlike on Kiva’s main site, loans made through FITE will only go to women. When people fund a loan on the site, starting at $25, they choose what country and what industry their money goes to. Kiva will then choose the borrower and send donors e-mail updates on the entrepreneurs who receive their funds. You can check out the campaign site too, at http://joinFITE.org.

JoinFITE is inspiring a movement and I can’t wait to see where it goes! Celebrities like Geena Davis and Julia Ormond, companies like Dermalogica and Seventh Generation, and thought leaders like Isobel Coleman and Nicholas Kristof (NY Times Columnist and best-selling co-author of Half-the-Sky) have all joined forces and are competing in the joinFITE Challenge. Learn more about it at JoinFITE.org.

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