How can consumers invest in improving conditions in the developing world, while enjoying and sharing their investment?
This was one of the core questions that led Patrick Donohue (MBA ’04) and his co-founders to launch the Hoop Fund: an angel-funded startup that enables consumers to invest in and champion the makers of Fair Trade products they love from the developing world.
Patrick and his colleagues are building on the model that Kiva pioneered, using 0% interest loans of $25 or more to invest in the growth of entrepreneurs in poor communities. While Kiva mainly focuses on individual entrepreneurs, the Hoop focuses on community enterprises, ones that provide many of the basic services for their communities. These farmer or artisan co-operatives also supply many of the products that people here in the U.S. buy and enjoy: everything from chocolate, to coffee, designer apparel, quinoa, soccer balls, and more.
After graduating from UNC Kenan-Flagler, Patrick spent several years working in low-income communities in the U.S., India, Kenya, and Brazil, where he designed businesses that served poor communities and helped build consumer movements to launch them.
In March 2010 he was introduced to Deborah Hirsh and Kevin Jones, who were discussing the idea of building a Kiva-like platform for Fair Trade producers. Kevin, the co-founder of Good Capital and the Social Capital (SOCAP) conference, recruited Patrick to lead the new venture and they quickly pulled together a founding team of partners and investors.
The team brought on board several leading Fair Trade brands, and was joined by Marc Mathieu, the founder of BeDo and former head of global marketing for Coca-Cola, who now leads their consumer marketing. On August 12th, they debuted the Hoop Fund to 150 of their close friends and colleagues at the Hub SoMa in San Francisco. Their new website launched with five founding loan projects ranging in size from $1400-$3500 and encouraging people to “invest in what they enjoy, and enjoy what they invest in”.