In light of the UK’s referendum decision to leave the EU, there has been a sickening rise in racist attacks and intimidation towards both Europeans living in the UK and non-white Britons.
Therefore, it seemed particularly important to us that our Kiva loan for June showed solidarity with those who have been victimised, and those who are now facing fear and uncertainty for their future, by highlighting and celebrating the enormous contribution of those in minority communities.
Alongside this, Kiva themselves have published a blog series featuring the stories of Kiva borrowers who made the incredible journey from refugee to entrepreneur in honour of World Refugee Day which took place earlier this month. You can it read it here.
Our Kiva entrepreneur for June is Paul Vu, a first-generation Vietnamese refugee living in the USA- another country suffering a surge in racism and hatred, fuelled by Republican candidate Donald Trump.
Paul needs a loan of $10,000 to further his optical frame company Eyewear Design Alliance (EDA). His story really shone out us for a whole host of reasons -
1) He has been self-employed for almost all of his adult life, having been inspired by the hardworking owners of the local corner shop he visited by a child. We love his bravery and independence.
2) His business was built out of a genuine need, and out of desire to support small businesses. Independent opticians were fed up with being squeezed by big chains and internet companies. They needed to be able to supply something different, in the form of unique frames that better fitted their customers needs. Paul started his business to supply custom frames to these independent practices.
3) He has been phenomenally successful already. Paul’s frames have been worn on New York catwalks, and by a top Formula 1 driver. Clearly his formula works!
4) He has big plans. The loan will enable him to complete an app which will enable users to create their own custom frames on Apple devices- the first of it’s kind. We’re seriously impressed with this innovative thinking.
5) He is committed to giving. As Paul puts it, “I work hard so I can enjoy the rewards of giving back.” He runs an initiative called ‘1 pair 1 bag’ where he donates a bag of dog food to his local shelter for every sale of a paw printed wood pair of sunglasses.
6) He is explicit about wanting his brand to be known for not only the quality of his frames, but for the good that it does. This commitment to doing the right thing is something we massively admire.
Paul is living proof that everyone with a great idea should have the power to realise their potential.
We wish Paul all the luck in the world with this exciting new development in his business- we will certainly be keeping our eye on his website! If you want to do so too, the link to EDA - is here, and you can click here to support him by contributing to his loan via Kiva.