"Why are micro-finance and business education not more frequently bundled together?" This innocent question posed on a 12,000mile road trip in the summer of 2005 began a long running discussion between Jeremy and Zachary Fryer-Biggs about the benefits and shortcomings of both micro-finance and education in developing economies.
In late 2006, Jeremy, bored one weekend while at college, decided to attempt to more fully explore the answer to that question by writing a paper. 10 cups of tea, 48 hours, 20 pages and one mildly irritated girlfriend later he had in hand the beginnings of what would eventually become the Strivers' operating manual. He didn't recognize this at the time and promptly put the completed manifesto on a shelf to gather dust.
There it sat until 2008 when upon entering gradschool Jeremy was made aware of the Tufts 50k Social Entrepreneurship Competition. Knowing that most grantmaking organizations are hesitant to provide money to unproven startups run by scientists with no NGO experience he decided this might be the only opportunity to win funds to test his radical ideas. Over the next 9 months he recruited the 2 smartest people he knew who shared his interest and passion in micro-finance and together they researched and created a business plan for Strivers.
In March of 2009 Strivers, rather surprisingly, won Tufts 5th 50k Social Entrepreneurship competition.
A scouting trip was conducted that summer to put in place the logistics which would allow for the first Business Launch Program (BLP) to be carried out the following year. Jeremy's childhood nanny Grace, a highly politically connected Ugandan expatriate living in Maryland proved invaluable offering her network of contacts to get the project started. In September of 2009 Strivers assembled the BLP application after consulting among others with a psychologist, and a corporate headhunter. In October of 2009 three very patient and dedicated volunteers, Justin, Olive and Simon delivered the completed application to 25 different schools in three districts of Uganda. By December Strivers had filed for 501(c)3 status thanks to a donation of legal services as part of the competition winning from Skadden Arps.
While it has not been easy; balancing a shoestring budget (frequently supplemented by the meager earnings of its founders), spending countless hours writing curriculum, calling Uganda at 3am EST to stump for the organization, we are proud to say that the inaugural BLP class commenced June 28th 2010. The Strivers team shares the common dream of a future with a more economically independent and vibrant Africa.