Archives For microfinance

Photo Credit: enditmovement.com

Today, thousands will mark their hands with a bright red “X,” demonstrating their commitment to ending modern slavery. Since 2013, the END IT movement, a coalition of leading organizations committed to shining a light on slavery, which can include sex trafficking, bonded labor, and forced labor.

In many countries throughout the HOPE network, we serve a population that is vulnerable to human trafficking and forced labor. Traffickers prey on those living in poverty, and several of the countries in which we work have some of the most prominent human trafficking industries in the world. While HOPE does not work directly with anti-trafficking agencies, our work in poverty alleviation addresses many of the root causes of modern slavery. Our approach is to move upstream from the problem in an attempt to prevent the conditions and vulnerability that traffickers prey on. Here’s how:

1. Jobs create opportunities.
With few options to provide for their families, many people living in poverty willingly enter bonded labor. Or, they are baited with the promise of a job in another country, realizing upon arrival that they’ve been lied to. Even more tragically, families in destitute financial situations are often forced to give up one child to feed the rest of their family.* When families have meaningful work to support themselves, they are spared from making these kinds of decisions.

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Bustling with customers, Mamola’s house is a center of activity in her Dominican community. Neighbors gather to purchase household staples from her colmado, a small convenience store she operates from her front room. Every other week, members of Mamola’s community bank meet in her home to fellowship, study Scripture, and repay their loans.

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Mamola has been involved in business since she was young, learning the importance of hard work from her father. Widowed with five children and 12 grandchildren of her own, Mamola hopes to pass on this legacy of industry and ingenuity.

In 2008, Mamola took out a $177 loan from Esperanza International, HOPE’s local partner in the Dominican Republic, to expand her business buying and reselling dishes. Realizing her community would benefit more from groceries, Mamola used subsequent loans to open and expand her colmado. “I started with everything,” she remembers. “Just a tiny bit, but a little of everything.” As her store has grown, she stocks her shelves with larger quantities of rice, coffee, fruit, sugar, and other staples.

Giving back

Mamola appreciates Esperanza’s biblical teachings, especially the opportunity to pray together. She says she has learned more about her faith through her community bank’s time in the Word:

The Lord is my God; He is my everything, because He is the one that helps me.

Several years ago, Mamola’s husband got sick and eventually passed away. In addition to grieving his loss, Mamola faced overwhelming medical fees that left her in debt. She shares that she overcame this challenge with the help of Esperanza, the extra income from her colmado, and her five children.

A well-respected matriarch in her community, Mamola has connected several women with Esperanza. With her income, Mamola helps care for her grandchildren and has made improvements to her home, replacing the walls with sturdier concrete. Hardworking, humble, and thankful, Mamola dreams of expanding her business and passing it on to the next generation—along with her legacy of faith and hard work.

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Reposted from www.peterkgreer.com

This week is the 75th birthday of Muhammad Yunus, the inspiring leader who asked a question which struck at the root of a paternalistic approach to poverty alleviation: Why do for people what they’re capable of doing for themselves?

This question served as the basis of Yunus’ groundbreaking work in the 1970s as he founded the Grameen Bank; pioneered the modern microfinance movement; and garnered some impressive recognition, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and a Nobel Peace Prize.

Hundreds of thousands (myself included) have been inspired by the model of microfinance and signed up to help unleash women’s and men’s creativity around the world.

But recently there have been articles and thoughtful research projects critiquing this tool. Does this recent criticism undermine the microfinance movement? Does it unravel all that Yunus envisioned and that many of us have worked to implement?

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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.

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Each year, HOPE celebrates a client who demonstrates HOPE’s values of perseverance, compassion, character, and creativity by announcing the Thurman Award winner. Established in honor of HOPE’s first CEO and his wife, the Thurman Award celebrates clients who have not only experienced change in their own lives but have also extended that transformation to others in their community. Ms. Chiang is our 2014 Thurman Award winner!

Throughout Ms. Chiang’s home region in rural China, families often struggle to sustain their livelihood, farming corn and other low-value crops to feed themselves and collect a meager income. Traditional Chinese beliefs, often discouraging new ideas, further trap and isolate families in a seemingly hopeless cycle of economic and spiritual poverty. The difficulties of rural life lead many to leave their homes and families for better jobs in nearby cities. Ms. Chiang knows these difficulties and broken relationships all too well, but she found a new hope that changed her life.

Transformation

Like many in her rural village, Ms. Chiang left home to search for better economic opportunities in the city. While in the city, she heard the Good News for the first time, and it was literally music to her ears. Hearing songs of praise and worship sung by believers, she thought it sounded beautiful. Later, in community with believers for the first time, she put her faith in Christ.

Ms. Chiang’s faith flourished despite resistance from her family. In the city, she met HOPE China staff members who came alongside her through discipleship and Bible study. She discovered a new hope, and she wanted others to experience it too. “I thought of how many people were living in darkness,” she says, “and I planned to return to my village and testify on behalf of Christ.”

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Each year, HOPE celebrates a client who demonstrates HOPE’s values of perseverance, compassion, character, and creativity by announcing the Thurman Award winner. Established in honor of HOPE’s first CEO and his wife, the Thurman Award celebrates clients who have not only experienced change in their own lives but have also extended that transformation to others in their community. Over the next couple of weeks, we will be posting the stories of this year’s honorable mentions and overall winner.

When Elena Borisenko speaks, people listen. Throughout her community in Kamenka-Dneprovskaya, Ukraine, she’s seen as a woman of influence, not only because of her charismatic personality but also because of the changes she has seen as a successful businesswoman and a committed follower of Jesus Christ.

Hungry to learn

As a child, Elena loved the land and enjoyed tending her family’s garden, where new life was always sprouting. She moved to the city to attend college and continued living there after graduation. But when her mother was diagnosed with cancer, Elena immediately moved home to care for her. Together, the two women cried out to God. In time, Elena’s mother grew healthy and strong again, and the answered prayer left Elena hungry to know more about Christ.

While living with her mother, Elena met and married her now-husband. She soon gave birth to a son. With her husband’s encouragement, Elena left her job at a local post office and began growing tomatoes. She and her husband built a greenhouse using income from his job at a feed mill, and Elena says her family had everything they desired.

In 2006, Elena’s husband fell seriously ill. Doctors offered little hope, and Elena again put her hope in the Lord. She prayed fervently for her husband, and from his hospital bed, he dreamed that a powerful ray of light ascended from Elena to the sky and then entered his body. “From that moment I got better,” he testifies. After this, Elena’s faith was strong, but she still hungered to grow spiritually.

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