The inspiration for Thriive came to Art Schultz in the 1990’s while he was in Russia seeking ways to help small businesses grow after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Art was wrestling with the question of how to empower and encourage entrepreneurial ventures while meeting the social needs of Russians in their struggling new democracy.
While in Russia, Art met a young dentist with a small clinic and outdated equipment. Art wanted to help him grow his practice, and he offered him a loan to purchase new, quality equipment. The dentist said that would be wonderful, but that he could never repay the loan. After pondering this predicament, Art came up with an inspired idea – a “grant with strings.” He provided the financing for state-of-the-art dental equipment, and the dentist repaid the financing with free dental services for needy people equal to the cost of the equipment. The Thriive idea was born.
The dentist was so enthusiastic about the idea that today, years after completing his repayment, he continues to donate dental services in his community.
An Evolving Program
In the years since Thriive began in Russia, this unique program has continued to evolve. Under the direction of Erik Schultz of the Arthur B. Schultz Foundation, Thriive was implemented in additional countries and the program’s goals were expanded.
In 2008, new funding partners came on board to help more small businesses grow and create more jobs, and at the same time inspire a culture of business philanthropy in challenged communities. Realizing that this was no longer a grant program, in 2010 the Foundation launched Thriive as an independent new nonprofit dedicated to expanding the reach of ThriiveCapital.
Today Thriive is still primarily a family-run private operating foundation with programs in Guatemala, Kenya, Nicaragua, and Vietnam. While Thriive is still an early stage organization, reaching an average of just 15-20 businesses per year in each program, with additional funding we hope to “go deeper,” reaching 100 or more new businesses per year worldwide and multiplying the beneficial impacts of Thriive to entire communities. Please partner with us in this effort!