logoLeafy3 Yesterday I watched an inspiring interview with Jessica Jackley, co-founder of Kiva.org.   The interview was part of an event called The Leadership Summit which is an annual faith-based leadership event that includes presentations from recognized leaders from all walks of life.

While there were many things about the interview with Ms. Jackley that I found fascinating and inspiring, one thing that stood out in particular was how clearly Kiva understood the importance of defining its mission statement and then how that permeated the organization.  Kiva’s mission is “to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty”. The organization links individual credit lenders (some lending as little as $25) with entrepenuers in developing countries through in-country micro finance organizations.  When the interviewer asked her how Kiva managed to grow (Kiva has helped raise tens of millions of dollars in capital since its formation in 2005) while maintaining a relatively flat organizational structure Ms. Jackley referred to the importance of Kiva’s mission statement as providing the guidance and direction for a growing organization.  She asserts that Kiva’s mission statement provides an important mechanism for self-governance and reduces (not eliminates) the need for organizational structure and bureaucracy, allowing for great creativity and productivity within the organization.

So, a Mission Statement can be more than a line item or paragraph in your business plan but also a guiding light enabling an organization to operate efficiently and to flourish.