When Leonora Calipay’s children finished school and she came home to the Philippines, she knew there was something more to her life than retirement.
Leonora’s neighbor noticed her desire to do meaningful things in her free time, so she taught Leonora to sew rugs. With this new skill, Leonora started her own small rugmaking business. She hoped to empower her neighbors—especially the single mothers in her community—to make a living through the same craft.
An opportunity awaits
At just the right time, Leonora heard about the Center for Community Transformation (CCT), HOPE’s microfinance partner in the Philippines. She discovered that CCT could provide capital for her business and, as a Christ-centered cooperative, could also offer healthcare, social security, insurance, business mentoring, and spiritual development—different from other lending companies.
Empowering her community
Once Leonora joined CCT, she took out loans to invest in both her business and her community. With the loans, she bought sewing machines and hired her neighbors to make rugs, teaching them the skills her neighbor had taught her. Her vision of empowering her community became a reality.
“It’s great to see [my neighbors’] life transformation. I remember teaching them the basics of rugmaking when they didn’t know a single thing about it.”
Leonora has been served by CCT for 17 years now. She saves around $9 (U.S.) weekly and has borrowed loans of up to $2,700 (U.S.). Her rugmaking business has evolved into a thousand-dollar business with 15 employees. Leonora sees her business as a ministry, encouraging her neighbors through Scripture and helping them with their burdens in any way she can.
Through CCT, Leonora has experienced holistic transformation. Spiritually, she grew closer to the Lord during regular Bible studies and fellowship meetings with CCT staff and other entrepreneurs. In addition, she has learned to become a good steward of money, sharing her resources to empower others to work. She confesses that she used to be grumpy, but the Word of God transformed her into a kinder person.
“There are lots of other microfinance organizations here in our area but CCT is the only one I joined. They do so much more than lending money. They really helped me grow spiritually.”
As her rugmaking business grew, Leonora’s husband and children got involved, too. Making rugs together helped their family grow closer. Leonora shares that her personal transformation also strengthened her relationship with her children: They began to visit more frequently and stay for longer stretches of time.
A hope and a future
Leonora continues to use what she has learned to bless others in her community. “I tell [my neighbors] to join CCT, start a business, and secure their future. This is the best way I can help them, by helping plan about their future,” she says.
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