One Billion Dollars Toward Ending Poverty – Let’s Do It

A reporter asked me today what my goals are for Soap Hope, and I gave her the answer that most of my friends know by now: to teach 1,000 small businesses the Good Returns Model and thereby raise one billion dollars for anti-poverty microloan initiatives.

I’m pretty sure this reporter was shocked – she said, “How much?!,” and actually sounded a bit disappointed. I think she felt I was being naive. Others have told me to start with a more “realistic” goal.  I’d like to show you how I believe it is reasonable to raise a billion dollars for microfinance over ten years, with just a few key numbers:

50 small businesses just like Soap Hope
In each of 20 American cities
Each generating $100,000 in profits
Each lending their profits interest-free to a microfinance institution for just 1 year
Over a 10 year period.

50 businesses x 20 cities x $100,000 x 1 year interest-free loan x 10 years = 1 billion dollars.

Let me share some key milestones and goals with you:

  • 2009 marks Soap Hope’s first full year in business
  • I first discussed the Good Returns model in public in the summer of 2009, just a few months ago
  • We’ve already had two small businesses in Dallas spontaneously ask us for help in implementing Good Returns in their own companies
  • In 2009 we’ve formed partnerships with three non-profit microfinance institutions
  • In 2010 we’ll be launching an organized effort to teach Good Returns to businesses
  • Simultaneously we will define sustainability programs that help nonprofits become ready for Good Returns style investments
  • In 2011 we’ll be working to form an insurance fund that guarantees the return of Good Returns investment capital to participating businesses, virtually eliminating participants’ risk

One billion dollars may sound like a big number – but when you break it down, it’s right within our grasp.  If you read my last post (We Need 166 More People To End Poverty Worldwide) you know that there are six million people in poverty in the Dominican Republic.  One billion dollars is just about what it would take to give each of them a microloan.

1,000 Good Returns businesses generating one billion dollars toward ending poverty through microfinance – I don’t think it’s naive at all. Let’s do it!


Salah Boukadoum
Co-Founder, Soap Hope

Please help us eradicate poverty: tell someone you know about Soap Hope right now.

learn: Soap Hope Learning Center
twitter: @soaphope

phone: 888-893-SOAP

Soap Hope Bar Soaps
Some Soap Hope Bar Soaps

Author: Salah Boukadoum

I am co-founder of Soap Hope, a social venture that sells natural, healthful products online, then invests 100% of profits into anti-poverty programs for women worldwide. -- My business model is called Good Returns: corporate capital spends one year volunteering to solve a world problem, in the form of an interest-free loan to a sustainable impact organization. The company also serves as a storyteller for the impact organization, and the "cycle" unlocks new value for everyone involved. -- My vision is to transform Dallas into the center of the world for solving humanity's greatest problems. I call it "Impact City." -- Ideas: -- TEDx Talk: -- Venture: -- Model: -- Impact City:

8 thoughts on “One Billion Dollars Toward Ending Poverty – Let’s Do It”

  1. Salah, you are absolutely remarkable! Love your new web-site and posting it on my Facebook. I think you are an amazing man with a great heart…Very interested in getting involved some way to help make your goals happen!


  2. i understand ur using the principle of ‘small change can make a big difference’ but i’m interested in knowing how u’ll convince all these small businesses to loan you their profits for a year. will they not need to invest it back into their business? are they not better off saving it in a bank?


    1. Hi Markaz18. There are several benefits to the company:

      (1) Let’s say a company earns $100,000 in profits during 2010, and during 2011 they keep the money in a bank account. How much will the company earn in interest? Perhaps $1,500 if interest rates rise? Now compare this amount to the cost of marketing. How much advertising can the company buy for $1,500? Perhaps a small ad in a local paper, or a few days of a Google campaign. By partnering with MFIs, the company’s mission drives media attention and customer communication.

      (2) Every employee at our company can combine their passion for improving the lives of others with a traditional job – they do not have to choose between making a living and doing good. Every action that we take at Soap Hope to drive profits results in benefits to poor women around the globe. This is an employee benefit that can’t be matched at a “regular” company.

      (3) Customers are fiercely loyal to us because we combine a social good with great products and service.

      In summary, the Good Returns model is a “win-win-win-win” for the business, customers, employees, and recipients of MFI loans. It makes great business sense for any small- to mid-sized company that is in touch with what’s happening in our world today.

      Thank you for commenting!


      1. you really do make it look simple. I’m running a new blog about microfinance services, models, case studies and theory, and I’d like to review your model too if you’re interested…it would draw more attention to you’re idea 🙂


  3. Hi
    This is Naren from India.. I have many small NGOs/MFIs who are in need of loans/credit and demand for such loans is very high here in India. You model seems quite interesting and would like to collaborate with you to partner with few committed and dedicated MFIs here in India. Share your thoughts…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: