Archives For Stories we love

Lina Feria never imagined that her small business selling homemade snacks could grow into a flourishing general store. Yet her story testifies that God can use small loans and persistence to transform a business and a whole family. 

Building a business brick by brick 

When Lina first decided to become a member of The Center for Community Transformation (CCT), HOPE International’s partner in the Philippines, she was selling traditional rice cake snacks (called kakanin) that she made at home. 

Although she was not a Christian then, Lina joined CCT because she was curious about their Bible studies. As she got to know staff members and read the Word, she slowly began to learn more about God and eventually gave her life to Him.  

It wasn’t long before Lina found herself looking into CCT’s financial services, too. In 1998, Lina took her first loan to support her small business. With a second loan, she expanded her inventory to include frozen products—which proved very popular with her customers. As her confidence grew, Lina continued to take out loans to expand her business into a general store with many offerings for her neighborhood.  

Freedom to be flexible 

When her community’s needs shifted, Lina switched up her business strategy and diversify her inventory.  

Subsequent loans and training from CCT equipped her to build a physical store; add fishing supplies; and begin selling motor parts, generators, gallons of purified drinking water, and chickens to sell eggs.  

“Materially, the Lord has given us so much,” Lina shares. “I am no longer peddling.”  

Today, Lina has bold dreams for the future. She and her husband are renting their current store building, but one day they hope to buy land and build a store of their own.  

Whether those HOPE serves are diversifying inventory, raising livestock, tailoring clothes, or growing crops, we’ve seen the kind of transformation that is possible when men and women use their gifts and talents to provide for their families. 

In this year’s Gifts of HOPE catalog, we’ve highlighted some of the poverty-fighting tools used most commonly by entrepreneurs and farmers that HOPE serves. You can purchase these items symbolically in honor of friends and loved ones as a Christmas gift! 

We invite you to join hands with remarkable men and women like Lina through a Gift of HOPE this Christmas season.

Igor* has farmed for more than 40 years. In 2015, he retired from his long-time job as the director of a large private farm in western Ukraine. But his pension wasn’t enough to live off of, nor did he want to be idle. “I just can’t sit at home. I must do something!”

Combining rented fields with land he personally owns, Igor invested in growing soy and corn. Farming is a challenging job, as you deal with uncontrollable forces like the weather and fluctuating market prices for fuel and crops. Despite these challenges, he says resolutely, “Hope dies last.” Continue Reading…

In the Dominican Republic, a batey (pronounced “bah-TAY”) is a community made up primarily of families who immigrated from Haiti to work in surrounding sugarcane fields. These underserved communities are often located hours away from the nearest city. As immigrants, many families living in bateyes lack the necessary legal status to receive financial services, education, or medical services.

When Esperanza, HOPE’s microfinance partner in the Dominican Republic, first arrived in Batey Margarita in 2006, Jacobo Benjamin was the first of his neighbors to take out a loan. Previously, Jacobo had worked in the nearby sugarcane fields, cutting and processing the crop. But when the processing company announced it was closing, Jacobo knew he’d need to find a new source of income.

With his loan from Esperanza, Jacobo opened a colmado, or corner store, allowing him to provide for his family and meet a key need for his neighbors.

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Vincent Habiyaremye has a knack for taking broken or seemingly worthless pieces that many of us might discard and transforming them into something functional and whole.

Fifteen years ago, he used those skills as a carpenter, going door to door in his community in Rwanda to find odd jobs and provide for his wife and children. But his days were long and the demand for his services was sporadic.

Vincent dreamed of moving beyond the fluctuation of day labor. He dreamed of supporting his children through school so that they could one day pursue their own dreams. He dreamed of using his God-given gifts to build beautiful things in his community—and creating a business that would empower others to do the same.

Continue Reading…

Elizabeth Mutosa says that her neighborhood, Section 10, in Roan, Zambia, has gained a reputation for being a challenging place to live. “Section 10 has been characterized by … activities, like drinking beer, early marriages for young girls, and other activities that rob the peace of every child,” she shares. “There are vulnerable people that need to be helped.”

Despite these challenges, the sound of children singing praises to God can be heard filling the neighborhood. These children attend Elizabeth’s preschool, which she established in her own home.

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For years, a group of young people has built a reputation for contributing to violent attacks in Brazzaville, the Republic of Congo’s capital. “These young people sow terror in the city,” says Ghislaine Matondo, who lives in the city with her husband, mother, and sister. Yet little has been done to address the danger, she explains: “Juvenile delinquency in our neighborhoods is a sensitive matter [to which] even politicians do not dare give concrete answers.”

In 2020, Ghislaine took out her fifth loan from HOPE Congo to start a new venture: Merci pour la Bénédiction (“grateful for the blessing”), a business manufacturing sofas. But she says that the Lord gave her more than a new business idea; He also gave her a vision to address the challenge of gang violence in her community. Continue Reading…