Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Creating Our Way To A 'Be Fruitful & Multiply' Economy.

How strong is your desire to inspire real answers in your community?

Solutions start with problems, it is so basic we miss it. Scaled up, economic hard times are opportunities for a leap forward by societies willing to cultivate true creativity. We are endowed with a very powerful, universal drive to create fruitfulness. That sentence reveals the how: Create.

I am convinced that the failure of so many of the economic solutions coming out of Washington today is not so much that they are big-government solutions rather than local or that they are 'progressive' solutions rather than conservative. To me, the strategic failure of these solutions are that they do not inspire meaningful creativity and imagination.

I have long been fascinated by demonstrations of creative fruitfulness generated from simple seed investments such as Micro-lending, Community loan funds, Pay-it-Forward school projects, and Tenfold Challenges. I wonder how much of the way out of our current difficulties would be found in local communities helping locate the creative impulse in all of us while we inspire each other to 'create' our own way out of economic paralysis.

Adopting just one idea from the vast creative arsenal available to us: What if we challenged young people with small seed investments to create Tenfold returns? The scenario goes like this: A challenge is made, sometimes by a church or school, to take a seed cash amount and double or triple it or create a tenfold return. That return is usually earmarked to fund some community project, but could just as easily fund that young person to expand a business idea or fund their continued education. A portion could also go to fund two other youth entrepreneurs, and so goes the multiplication. In practice, some (but not all) take the challenge, and those that do almost always meet their goal and create the multiplying effect, but also discover great things about themselves in the process.

Think about it from your perspective (or for the young people in your family or community)... if someone were to make an offer of giving you $10 and challenging you to turn it into $100 in 30 days, could you do it and would you accept the challenge?

Would you accept a $100 to $1,000 challenge in 90 days?
Or, a $1,000 to $10,000 challenge in 6 months?
How about $10,000 to $100,000 in a year?

How many new businesses could be started in your own community? How many lives would be changed? Could your community become a model for others? What stories could your church create?

These thoughts are challenging, but then again we are already living in challenging times. Maybe a little community conversation and imaginative thinking would be well worth it... and maybe, just maybe it might be the beginning of our own economic stimulus, and a recovery of much more than we first imagined.


  1. A good stimulus package Mike. Rather than stimulate the economy by taking from one person and giving it to another using transfer economics (aka socialism), why don't we lead the way out of our financial mess with Spirit led creative economics, one household and one community at a time.

    By the way, if anyone has $25M, i would accept the challenge to turn it into $125M in 3 years... using a creative Kingdom solution of course!

  2. I guess you prefer to Macro the Micro. Hey, we serve a big God ... and some of the best opportunities are left on the table, simply because they are large, left for the few who can address them.

    Could you also think of one young person in your circle who might benefit from the micro challenge?

  3. I had a pastor ask me for some ideas on how to start a micro-seed project. This is certainly just one idea, but here's my reply...

    1. First, think of one person (maybe a young person) who would benefit most from a challenge like this?

    2. Do you think he or she would accept the Challenge? ...you give them $10 and they find a way to turn it into $100 in 30 days (gross revenue, within the guidelines mentioned). Note: 10X is probably not sustainable if their family-cocooned business grows to take on more expenses, but it is a great way to start and make a lasting impression of the potential for what a lean and creative enterprise can do.

    3. Let's imagine further... If one person would take this challenge, do you think there might be 9 other young people who would as well?

    RECAP: If so, your investment in 10 young people thus far is $100.

    RESULTS: Even if half fall short of their goal in 30 days, here are the results:

    1. Five made their goal and that comes to over $500 gross revenue (just in the first month).

    2. Even if the others did not reach their stated goal, unless they got completely sidetracked along the way they probably had some measure of return, anywhere from $20 to $90, which in business terms is a runaway success! ... And they will be pleased to hear it.

    3. As their capital partner and using an over-simplified agreement, let's say you are entitled to receive a 15% share of revenue: or $75 from the first group and about $50 estimated from each of the remaining five who achieved different levels of return. That's $125 or $25 over your original investment in 30 days and an opportunity to a continued revenue stream from those that continue and grow their new business. Now I know financial ROI is not your primary motive, but it is important to teach your prodigies responsibility to their capital partner. They will need it later.

    4. Also in 30 days according to agreement, they have contributed 10% of revenue (for just the first two months) to a fund that could launch 10-20 other young entrepreneurs in their own micro business projects (and as such you can estimate 50-70% overall growth in the number of empowered youth every two or three months). And on and on it could go, all started with $100.

    5. But most important, these young have experienced a strong taste of entrepreneurship and the power of creativity and multiplication. They will never be the same.

    This is just one way of imagining how it could be done, but how would you do it? Change the target group: your employees (intrapreneuring) or team up with a recently out-of-work friend or neighbor...or start with your own children, or start with just you. Share your ideas and stories.

    When I was young we had Junior Achievement (ja.org), but the use of programs like these are less prevalent today. I wonder where we'd be today if these programs were more widespread during the last 20 years. Since small business is the engine of growing economies and youth are America's future, why not foster both. And if you combine discovery of God-given purpose with creative economics you are addressing the two most powerful internal motivators.