It’s no longer good enough to kill two birds with one stone. We now require each stone to kill six birds. Case in point: While I’m not cool enough to own an iPhone, I have friends who are, and I am continually amazed at its diverse functionality. Mobile communication technology is an absolute marvel in itself, but it’s no longer enough for our phones to make and receive calls from anywhere in the world. Now we require them to provide email, directions, games, web browsing, news, stock trading, and blogging. Daily, the list expands. Are you pregnant and need to track your contractions? Now you can with the Birth Buddy app on your iPhone. You name it – “there’s an app for that.”
Microfinance isn’t just about making loans anymore. Traditional microfinance in and of itself is transformative, but the opportunities for innovation on the microfinance framework are boundless. Clean water is a serious issue around the world; globally, one in six people lack access. HOPE’s program in the Philippines pioneered an innovative, employment-based strategy to address this serious issue. In partnership with PepsiCo, they built a top-notch water purification system right in the branch office. Twenty of their clients took out loans to purchase the water in bulk. These water vendors then load up their bicycles with jugs of water and sell the water in some of the most-underserved communities in the city. Through this model, they collectively sell over 300,000 gallons of clean water annually. Sure, it’s wonderful that our clients in the Philippines can access financial services, but what about the dirty water they drink every day? Microfinance has an app for that.
In the Dominican Republic, many of our clients are able to run a business, but they sadly have family members who are suffering with or have died from AIDS or other sexually-transmitted diseases. When I visited a community bank in the Dominican Republic last year, the loan officer conducted a comprehensive, biblically-based STD training during one of the group’s bi-weekly loan repayment meetings using educational materials developed by a healthcare organization. It’s great our clients there have a safe place to save their money, but how do they educate their children about sexual health? Yep, there’s an app for that.
Recognizing that their clients completely lacked access to Bibles and Christian literature, HOPE Ukraine developed an innovative solution to address this disparity. They have thousands of clients throughout Ukraine, and when they started distributing Bibles, the Jesus Film, and Christian literature at client meetings, immediately they had created a viable distribution channel for these much-needed resources. Having access to capital is important, but what directs our clients’ financial decision-making and priorities? Do they have access to God’s word? You guessed it. There’s an app for that.