Archives For Microfinance

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by Annie Rose Ansley, HOPE Trips Liaison

This blog post was originally posted on Esperanza International’s blog.

I like to be independent. I like to accomplish and improve things without relying on or waiting for anyone else. Anyone with me?

0P7A8134Yet here in the Dominican Republic, microfinance groups with HOPE’s partner, Esperanza International, are opening my eyes to the beauty and paradoxical freedom of dependence. Forming a group is the first requirement to taking out a small loan with Esperanza. If an individual cannot repay their loan for any reason, the responsibility lands with the group. This system may sound scary, but it works. Social collateral—neighbors and friends—can be a very powerful guarantee. Members of solidarity groups live in small, close-knit communities, which positively influence each member to repay.

But, of course, there are times when someone is unable to pay back. I have been at many meetings where one client readily covers the meeting’s loan payment for another. Likewise, I have seen these advances repaid time and again. These examples of community dependence are a slice of humble pie for my spirit of skepticism and self-reliance. Continue Reading…

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Nestled in the mountains of western Ukraine, the small town of Khust boasts some of the country’s greatest mountain biking trails. Tourists from all over the world come to experience the region’s beauty. For Lesya Login, a native of Khust, biking is a deep passion—something she and her husband, Nicholai, dreamed of sharing with others.

Early in their marriage, Lesya worked as a coach at a school while Nicholai worked as a bike repairman. They dreamed of one day starting their own business selling bikes. After Lesya purchased and sold several bikes to test out their idea, she was convinced that the business would work—but the Logins lacked the capital needed to get it off the ground.

As Lesya sought a solution, commercial banks repeatedly denied her loan applications, doubtful that someone so young—just 22 years old at the time—and with no business experience would be able to repay. Determined, Lesya continued to search for a bank that would give her a loan. That’s when their neighbor, Michael, told Lesya and Nicholai about the organization he worked for: HOPE Ukraine.

Continue Reading…

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In 2016, HOPE International had the great privilege of walking alongside more than 950,000 families around the world! Through our blog, we’ve shared a few their stories, along with insights into our work and the communities where we serve. We hope that you’ve been encouraged, challenged, and inspired in your own life to grow in faith and service to the Kingdom. In case you missed any of these popular blog posts, here are the top five most read posts from 2016.

What makes Anita smile?

What the saddest people in the world look like

March 14, 2016 – Is Burundi the saddest country in the world? Lauren Sheard, HOPE Burundi’s program manager, wrote about a different, more hopeful Burundi, quoting HOPE savings members who share why they smile despite living in challenging circumstances. Learn why

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“I have a calling”

May 18, 2016 – Each year, we celebrate clients who demonstrate HOPE’s values of perseverance, compassion, character, and creativity by announcing Thurman Award winners. 2016’s winner, Beatrice Bamurange, shares her story of calling and service to Rwandan families living in poverty. Watch her story

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How to help in Haiti right now

October 7, 2016 – On October 4, Hurricane Matthew slammed into the southwestern region of Haiti. We invited you then to consider how you could help bring assistance to Haitian families, and we ask you to join us in lifting up the people of Haiti through these prayer requests that are still relevant today. Pray for Haiti

File_004I took my teaching job—and paycheck—for granted

August 10, 2016 – After Luke Harbaugh, HOPE’s church and community liaison, met Rosemarie, a HOPE Haiti savings member, he had to consider the question, “What if I don’t get paid this week?” Read his reflection

IMG_4691Five ways to rethink your short-term missions trip

July 28, 2016 – HOPE Trips are distinct from what many might think of the typical missions trip to be. Annie Rose Ansley, our HOPE Trips liaison, shared five ways to set up short-term missions trips that are positive and powerful experiences. Learn more

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by Ben Lewis, HOPE Supporter

One of the things that I love about HOPE International is how they give people the opportunity to work.

For many of us, the difficulty or monotony of work can sometimes make us feel more like Job in the Bible rather than blessed with vocation. But all it takes is a story like this one in The Wall Street Journal to be reminded of the blessing of work. In it, the journalist describes how people with autism, who once were deemed unemployable, are finding meaningful work at corporations like SAP and Freddie Mac. Patrick Brophy, a 29-year-old man with Asperger’s (a milder form of autism spectrum disorder), said, “Four weeks before joining, I was steadily more and more nervous. Within a month, [the work] was second nature. I had found myself.” This is indeed a beautiful and noble thing—Mr. Brophy is experiencing the blessing and dignity of work. Continue Reading…

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By Annie Rose Ansley, Field Communications Fellow in the Dominican Republic

A fundamental component of Dominican life, whether in the middle of bustling city streets or tucked away in the most remote, rural community, is the colmado. A colmado is a small corner store, or the Dominican equivalent of a mini-mart. And they truly are on almost every corner; the stores are as ubiquitous as Starbucks in New York City.

Two of the three clients with Esperanza (HOPE’s partner in the Dominican Republic) that I’ve interviewed thus far were, incidentally, colmado owners. People in their neighborhoods can stop by for fresh bread, a bag of chips, a soda, seasoning mix, eggs, candy. . .  Some colmado workers also have bikes and deliver–for free!–to your door, which is especially convenient when you need another 5-gallon water jug. However, colmados aren’t mainly about convenience; they’re mainly about community.

In the U.S., the goal is “get in, get out”; in the D.R., it’s more of a “come in, hang out” mentality. I have been shocked at the number of customers I’ve seen at several tiny colmados; they seem to arrive from nowhere, gathering in front of the store, in no rush to leave.

colmadoAt times they share a just-purchased snack or drink, or perhaps they start a game of dominoes or chess (can you imagine a chess match going on inside your local 7-Eleven?). Many colmados keep these games behind the counter and let you borrow them, along with a few plastic chairs; a game will often draw a crowd of spectators.

Then there are the “colmadones”—same concept, but a little larger and with much louder music, allowing them to transform into natural party spots at night. Locals gather there to spend their evenings together. When Hamilton and I had just arrived in Santo Domingo, we were searching for bottled water downtown and were afraid to enter the extremely noisy and crowded colmadón near our hotel. (Wait, what? I’m supposed to be able to pick up groceries here right now?)

There is definitely a beauty to this colmado culture. The stores meet even more of a social need than a physical one; they are a nucleus of community activity. Dominicans are very outgoing people (I particularly love their custom of greeting everyone when they get on the bus!), and they clearly see the importance of human connection and fellowship. For them, a tiny grocery store is a perfect place to hang out, laugh, and catch up with neighbors. And unlike many of us, they feel like they have time to spare.

In light of months of unrest in Ukraine, and especially with this week’s escalating violence, Ukraine weighs heavily on the hearts of HOPE’s staff and partners. Ukraine is the place where HOPE’s work and the Tomorrow Clubs first took root, and we know this instability will undoubtedly impact the 14,000+ individuals served by both ministries nationwide.

Because HOPE Ukraine does not serve clients in Kiev, we’re thankful that those we serve are not living in close proximity to the violence. Throughout this time, we’ve been in regular communication with our staff and have been conducting business in normal ways. We will continue to closely monitor political developments in the capital as they unfold.

Amid uncertainty and hopelessness, HOPE Ukraine’s leaders rejoice that we have an incredible opportunity to share our experiences of hope and eternal assurance in knowing Christ. We eagerly invite you to join us in prayer for Ukraine and for our work there in the following ways:

  • Pray for a quick and peaceful resolution to the unrest. Pray that a recently announced agreement, brokered with the help of European Union representatives, would hold and bring an end to the crisis.
  • There have been serious fluctuations in Ukraine’s currency exchange rates in the past two months, and this may result in Ukraine defaulting on national debt. These fluctuations may also trigger rising inflation and an increase in business costs for HOPE Ukraine clients purchasing goods from abroad. Pray for wisdom for Ukraine’s leaders and solutions to ongoing economic challenges.
  • Pray that God would provide for clients’ needs as they manage disruptions to their supply chains, transportation, schedules, and business operations in the coming months.
  • Pray that God’s presence would be made known in the midst of uncertainty, and that the local Church would find many opportunities to share the love of Christ with their neighbors.
  • Pray for the political, economic, and civil future of Ukraine.