So first things first. My name is Becky, and I work for HOPE International’s Central Service Unit as a grant writer. Part of my job is to serve as a go-between bridging the informational gap between HOPE supporters (typically in the U.S.) and HOPE’s 14 international microenterprise development programs – including the 270,000+ entrepreneurs HOPE serves. On a daily basis, I find myself doing some pretty cool things – interviewing interesting field staffers, researching living conditions, answering donors’ questions, and learning about and describing the inner mechanics of microfinance institutions and the challenges our staff and clients face. I love my job! But the thing is…I do all of these things from the gray stillness of my very American cubicle in a very American office in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
So I’ve been shipped off to the Republic of Congo, and I couldn’t be more pleased! After years of planning, coordinating, and waiting patiently, HOPE recently launched its newest microfinance institution (MFI): HOPE Congo! Last Monday, our local staff successfully disbursed small business loans to 50 aspiring entrepreneurs who make a living selling products and services to the people of Brazzaville. I couldn’t think of a better place to be right now to experience the realities of how this all works. So for almost a month, I’m here to learn:
- What it takes to launch an MFI
- What it’s like to live and do business in a place like Congo
- How our clients creatively combine ideas, skills, training, and HOPE capital to begin to pull their own families out of poverty.
Feel free to follow along and learn with me!