The dreams of individuals around the world have recently been realized through microfinancing. Global microfinancing organizations such as Kiva, Hope International, and Five Talents International have helped mold many men and women into strong, leading, and confident entrepreneurs in their local communities. Microfinance is not a new idea, but is often credited to Dr. Mohammad Yunus, who many call the father of microfinance. Yunus was an economics professor in Bangladesh who was deeply moved to action after a devastating famine in 1974, and began loaning small amounts of money to businesswomen in his area. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his contributions to economic and social development. Micro-financing has since grown and more recently gained popularity with the ease of the Internet and web-based giving.
In 1997, Jeff Rutt, a Pennsylvania-based home-builder, founded Hope International as an effective, logical alternative to support those in need of entrepreneurial assistance. He implemented microfinancing to enable disadvantaged, existing or potential entrepreneurs to receive small loans and savings services beneficial to themselves and their communities. Those who are living in poverty, struggling with strenuous circumstances, hitting a rough patch, or who simply need a leg-up, are able to utilize these types of loans to make small but significant strides towards independent and economic empowerment. Five Talents International expresses a similar goal in their mission statement, “to fight poverty, create jobs and transform lives by empowering the poor in developing countries using innovative savings and microcredit programs, business training and spiritual development.”
A microfinancing loan can fund various endeavors. From supporting a custom jewelry maker, to supporting a project that provides roofing and brick molding services to ensure community houses are kept dry, or helping a street food vendor purchase a second cart. Kiva.org even allows individuals to choose who to lend to—whether a baker in Afghanistan, a goat herder in Uganda, a farmer in Peru, a restaurateur in Cambodia, or a tailor in Iraq—and as they repay their loan, you get your money back. It’s a powerful and sustainable way to empower someone right now to lift themselves out of poverty.
Microfinanced loan amounts are significantly smaller than traditional loans since most receiving individuals only need a minimal amount to either start up a new business, keep their business running, or to expand. Hope International’s website states that, “while a traditional bank might make loans ranging from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, a microfinance institution typically loans sums ranging from $50-$500.” As a result, microfinancing loans are enough to push an entrepreneur forward, but small enough to not overburden an individual with debt. While this process does help those in difficult circumstances, at its core, it is still a loan and money-lending service. Those living in difficult circumstances, going through rough patches, or the chronically poor, are not passive individuals of their circumstances. They are hard-working and resilient. What happens with organizations that provide straight-forward donations is that recipients sometimes grow a dependency on the aid, which ends up doing more harm than good. This method supports a system that eventually leads to an individual’s economic empowerment and independence.
There are many different ways microfinancing can be beneficial. An elderly widow, who makes what she can out of knitting unique ponchos for village workers, may need a small, specific amount of money for more yarn, new threading equipment or a larger work surface. A microfinance loan may be a good option for her. A joint family operation in need of tools for rebuilding wells, huts, ditches, or wooden fences, may be eligible for a microfinance loan. In a poor country where tourism brings in a lot of revenue, a small village may want to start up an eco-tourism or cultural venture for tourists. Since these are loans, microfinancing has the versatility to support many of these scenarios.
One of the greatest things about microfinancing is that you don’t have to be in dire need to get assistance. You could be an existing business owner, who has had her share of rough patches and complications along the way who just needs a simple push to restore balance and increase revenue. Microfinancing can create a positive boost, resulting in heightened determination, faith in oneself, the unlocking of untapped potential, awareness of support groups and organizational guidance, or the enrichment of one’s community. Many of these microfinancing organizations offer additional personal one-on-one skill-building, emotional and spiritual guidance, and much more. Many enriching opportunities await individuals who seek microfinancing to build more solid futures for their families, friends, and communities.
There are many ways you can get involved in microfinancing and give your own small loan to entrepreneurs in developing countries. Hope International offers a series of different options for people to choose short or long term contributions. You can even specifically designate which country you want to help the most. In addition to monetary loans, Hope International also accepts personal property, life insurance policies, retirement plans, real estate, and appreciated stocks. The organization offers a skilled team of advisors, administrators, and representatives. You can bring your specific questions or concerns regarding ways to contribute by contacting an international representative near you.
Giving and supporting is one of the organization’s main goals, but providing a solid spiritual and emotional support system is also essential. When supporting a family and meeting their financial needs, Hope International invites individuals to participate in self-enriching activities oriented around Christian values. “We believe that the more you learn about Christ-centered microfinance, the more empowered you will become to make a difference for those trapped in physical and spiritual poverty around the world,” Hope International states on their website.
Pledge to make a true difference in the world. Give a deserving family a chance for a better and brighter feature. Remember, anyone has the power to make a positive change; all it takes is one loan to change someone’s life. Get involved today!