Empowerment and Giving Back: The Entrepreneurial Impact of Kfir Gavrieli

For Tieks CEO, Kfir Gavrieli, empowering other entrepreneurs is just as important as building his own brand. Now, that may sound surprising, especially since Gavrieli’s shoe brand engages in the highly competitive space of selling direct-to-consumer, high-end ballet flats. But, as he sees it, Tieks’ distinct blend of comfort, quality and style empowers brand lovers to look and feel their best. And so, when he decided to give back through his Gavrieli Foundation, he turned his focus to Kiva, a lending platform through which he can empower female entrepreneurs in underserved communities, all around the world. 

Micro-Loans: Small Donations with Big Impacts 

Founded in 2005, the Kiva platform is a digital marketplace that allows individuals to lend amounts as low as $25 to an international community of aspiring entrepreneurs. Through this exchange, the platform creates new opportunities for its global beneficiaries. And, Kfir Gavrieli’s foundation has become the platform’s single largest lender, giving out more than $10 million to more than 55,000 female entrepreneurs who live in more than 70 countries, including the United States. On his choice to use this platform for a good bulk of his charitable donations, Gavrieli has said, “We are giving them access to capital, they are repaying us and then we can help somebody else.” 

But, beyond the multiple giving opportunities that the Kiva platform lends to the Gavrieli Foundation, the Tieks CEO is thrilled that this mode of philanthropy gives a hand up, rather than a handout, to its recipients. He has said, “We can give a pair of shoes to a woman, but how much more powerful is it when we give her a loan she can use to start a business?” Gavrieli continues, “Microlending has become intertwined with the meaning of our company and our product and our brand, something we have doubled down on each year, something we have increased our commitment to.” He has concluded, “This approach is the most comprehensive, sustainable, and scalable solution to global poverty.”

A Commitment to Empowerment

While micro-lending is at the core of Kfir Gavrieli’s philanthropy—and brand—it is not the only way in which he uses his position as Tieks CEO to empower others. “In terms of where I put my time and also my capital, it goes far beyond the microloans,” he has said.

During the COVID pandemic, Gavrieli spearheaded his Tieks community’s ability to come together for the greater good, launching Operation #SewTogether. The effort, as explained, was designed to “mobilize our resources and millions of fans to produce masks for frontline medical providers in hospitals facing extreme shortages.” He recalled, “We set up a mask production line in Los Angeles by retooling our facility, purchasing a fleet of sewing machines and retraining our team to create masks that could be immediately donated to local hospitals. We also called on our amazing Tieks customers and fans to get engaged in this life-saving cause, offering $50 gift cards for every 25 masks sewn and $100 gift cards for every 50 masks.” 

The result of this campaign? Over one million masks were donated to more than 500 hospitals and healthcare facilities nationwide. Clearly, under Gavrieli’s guidance, his community of ballet flat lovers was capable of great achievement. But, rather than taking the credit for his leadership, the CEO merely views it as part of his inherent responsibility to raise up the surrounding community. After all, he believes, “We need to come together—businesses, nonprofits, governments, and everyday people of all backgrounds and political affiliations. Every single person should be asking: what can I do to help?”