Archives For Microfinance

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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.

In her eyes was deep pain and loss. There was a strength about her, a certain inexcusable confidence, and yet behind it lay an undeniable burden. She smiled a smile that exuded love and sincere delight in welcoming me and my friends into her home. I knew she was going to tell us the story of her experience during the genocide in April of 1994, but I had no comprehension of the drastic impact it would have on me, nor the strength it would require her to simply share.

Her story was graphic. The details feel almost too horrific to recount or to write down, and yet she declared to us as she closed: “Please tell my story because I know it will help someone else in their life; we have to learn from each other.” And so, I will share a bit of her journey in the hopes that retelling it will move my heart and the hearts of those that read it towards deeper compassion.

Continue Reading…

Recently, I was in Lima, Peru, visiting a savings and credit association (SCA) partnership launched nearly two years ago. For those building their knowledge in the field of microeconomic development, SCAs are small groups of people that meet regularly to hear a message of reconciliation, save small amounts of money, and live life together—the unique blending of a tiny credit union and a Sunday school class. Members learn about reconciliation available through Christ and how to save money toward a goal. In short, members are given the tools they need to feel hope again, hope for a better future. Here is a brief description of one such SCA group meeting I was able to attend on this trip.

Continue Reading…

savings clients in India

Written by Anna Pasquali of Live58. Originally published on the Live58 blog.

Let’s start by making a list of all that we know microenterprise development can do:

  1. Give opportunities to have a steady income
  2. Teach useful skills
  3. Teach the value of saving and record-keeping
  4. Help send children to school
  5. Start a small business
  6. Invest in future goals
  7. Help support entire communities
  8. Establish dignity
  9. Provide nutrition
  10. Enable the poor to provide for themselves

Continue Reading…