Seed Of An Idea
From a Speech Given at the 2015 Houston Humanitarian Awards
I became an entrepreneur because of an adverse event in my life, which in reality was a blessing in disguise. As a new immigrant, with no credit, no track record, I went to various banks for a line of credit. One banker, Doyle Strickland, took a chance on me and gave me a loan of $6,000. I do not know if the word micro-loan existed then, but know I know that was a micro loan. This launched my business and over the years, I went on to become a serial entrepreneur.
The seeds of Bayou Microfund were planted in my mind about 10 years ago.
One of my garage door openers had to be repaired, and I looked in the Yellow Pages and called a company to repair the door. A young man came and fixed the door, and I was delighted by his service, the way he did his job and more so when he called a day later and asked if the door was working well. I thought, this is service! Almost like the good old days when the doctor called you at home to check on you!
Then, about a week later, my other garage door failed, and I called the same company to fix the second door. The same guy came and did his job again exceptionally well. He seemed to be more like owner of the business than an employee. My curiosity got better of me, and I asked him, “Do you or your family own this business?”
“No,” he said very sadly, “I wish I did. My boss, the owner, is retiring and said he would sell this business to me, if I can put down $10,000 dollars. I don’t have it and no bank is willing to lend me the money.” I felt for him, and I promised myself that day that one day I would find a way to help other entrepreneurs.Years later, I got involved with TiE and with Kiva and its US program Kiva Zip (now know as Kiva US). This new entity, Bayou Microfund, is a non-profit Texas corporation that has been created to keep my promise to myself and to help others.
I want to give back to Houston. So, with the support of family, friends and other Houstonians, I hope to create a vibrant micro-lending community in Houston and hopefully in other cities in the US and around the world.
Microfinance is a very collaborative effort of many entities, and Bayou Microfund looks forward to working closely with the passionate students of University of Houston, Promise Credit Union, Neighborhood Centers (now known as BakerRipley), Skills4Living and many such organizations.
I want to say specially thanks to my wife, Amrita who has supported me in all my endeavors. There have been countless others like the Kiva Team from San Francisco, Shri Iyer, the TiE board and others like Jeff Reichman, William Daniel, Esther, and of course Simrit Parmar of the Platform Houston team. As we move forward, we love to hear from others who are passionate about microlending and who want to give back and make a difference!