Program areas

Find Out What $50 Can Do in Burundi


In June of 2013, Five Talents set out with partner organization Mothers' Union to reach 220 new communities in Burundi. So far, 104 of these communities have received funding; 116 are still waiting.

We're asking for your help to close the gap.

The cost of delivering our services to one community is a little over $1,000. By donating $1,000, you will take an entire community off the "waiting list."

You may also choose to fund individual participants for $50 each. In other words, a gift of $100 will enable two individuals to join the program. Gifts of $250 and $500 will empower five and 10 people, respectively.


About the program

The Mothers' Union Literacy and Development Program has been successfully training Burundians in literacy and numeracy since 2005. Five Talents partners with Mothers' Union in order to provide business skills training as well as savings and credit group formation to the literacy program participants.

In FY2013, we served 15,917 group members across Burundi.

By July of 2014, we expect that...

  • 4,400 new direct members and 22,000 family members or dependents will have benefited from this program;
  • 49% of the members will take out a loan during their first year in the program;
  • More than 53% of the members will start a new micro-business as a result of the business skills training;
  • 98% of the micro-loans will be repaid, with only 6% of the group members having made a late payment;
  • 100% of the members will have seen an increase in household income – from business activities and/or from a return on their savings.

These statistics are incredibly encouraging! They show the kind of impact you make when you support Five Talents.

Please make a gift today and invite your friends to join you in transforming a life in Burundi!


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2013 Fall Gala


You're invited to Five Talents' 2013 Fall Gala celebrating our microsavings and microcredit programs across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Cocktails and a silent auction will begin at 6:30pm on October 18 at a private country club in Bethesda, Maryland. Dinner will be served at 8:00pm.

Claudette_with_womenFive Talents is delighted to be hosting several special guests -- including Claudette (R), a staff member with our local partner in Burundi, Mothers' Union!

Guests will also hear about some exciting developments in our Indonesia and Philippines programs, including a new partnership with George Mason University's School of Management.

To purchase tickets for the October 18 event, click here.

If you're not in the local area or are otherwise unable to attend, we'd love it if you would share this webpage with friends and family who live in the Maryland, Virginia and DC area.

Click here to make a donation.

Photo of Claudette courtesy of Mothers' Union

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Help Our Partner in the Philippines Provide Relief and Rebuild After Typhoon Haiyan


Updated January 13, 2014

The government of the Philippines estimates that at least 4 million people have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan. Almost 6,000 people have died. More than 660,000 were estimated to be living without shelter after the storm, one of the strongest tropical storms ever to hit land.

At times like these, we all want to do something that can make a difference. The good news is, we can.

First of all, please pray for the people of the Philippines, for the relief agencies and government officials who are working around the clock, for the churches and lay people who are ministering to the homeless and mourning, and especially for the families whose lives have been destroyed by this terrible storm.

You can also give.

While Five Talents is not a relief agency, we partner with local organizations that are based in the communities where we work. Our partner in the Philippines, the Center for Community Transformation (CCT), has asked us to help them raise money for water, food, temporary shelter and – eventually – for the rebuilding of client micro-enterprises.

By making a donation today and designating your gift for our program in the Philippines, you will be directly helping people who are right now wondering where their next meal will come from, where they will lay their head tonight, and how they will ever begin to rebuild their lives.

Our partner, CCT, has indicated that their first priority in the coming days is providing food, water and temporary shelter.

Your gift of $25, $50 or $100 will make a difference – and so will your prayers.

Give today and join us in supporting our friends and neighbors whose lives have been devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.


marketUPDATE: My Journey to the Philippines After Typhoon Haiyan (1/13)

We went to the port and saw what used to be the Estancia market. The roof of the market was completely torn off and there were still much debris all around. However, we could see signs of recovery because there were trucks hauling debris. Vendors also set up shop in the roofless market. As I looked around, I was in awe of the entrepreneurial spirit of the Estancia townsfolk. There were several makeshift stands that had signs saying "Charging Station." People could fully charge their cell phones or laptops for P20 (or 47 cents). I also saw several men piling corrugated iron sheets (roofing material) one on top of the other to sell.


UPDATE: An Enterprising 8-Year-Old Sells Loom Band Bracelets for Typhoon Victims (1/8)

Consider what the boy with five barley loaves and two fishes did in John 6. He gave them to Jesus, and they were used miraculously to feed five thousand people. Julius and his younger brother JB, 5, didn't have loaves and fishes, but they did have lots of loom band bracelets. They had prepared to sell them to relatives and family friends during their trip to the Philippines to raise support for Haiyan victims. Find out what happened.

UPDATE: This Man Reported to Work the Day After Typhoon Haiyan Destroyed His Home (12/17)

Michael_CCT1Michael said he cried when he saw what happened to his home and furnishings: In the twinkling of an eye, they were all gone. However, he believes that God was present during the storm and he is just thankful that none of his family members died or were injured. While visiting the community partners, he was able to encourage them. Likewise, their comforting words encouraged him. Michael is just one example of the CCT staff's selflessness and dedication to the community partners. According to Anna Mae Labanero, CCT's Regional Peer Servant (or Regional Manager), 100 percent of the Iloilo and Capiz staff reported for work the Tuesday after the typhoon, even if their own homes had been damaged. Click here to read more.

UPDATE: This Micro-Entrepreneur Lost Her Home in Typhoon Haiyan, But Not Her Resourcefulness (12/10)

Willy2_smThe day after Haiyan, Willy went to the Estancia pier and, with the last P200 ($4.65) in her pocket, she bought some bread and sold it to her neighbors. In true Five Talents' spirit, she then bought some goods to sell in her variety store. Her inventory was damaged, as the items were either blown away by the strong wind or ruined because of the rain. A neighbor also shared more bread with her, which she then distributed (for free) to her other neighbors. Click here to read more.

UPDATE: A Family Rebuilds Their Home Just 12 Days After Typhoon Haiyan (12/2)

Melodia1Before the super-typhoon struck, Melodia's family evacuated to a neighbor's concrete home, so their lives were spared by Haiyan. When we visited her to bring her some relief goods, just 12 days after the typhoon, her family had already put the debris on one side of their yard, and built a much smaller home using materials salvaged from their old home. There was an urgency because she needed a space for her two daughters. I noticed how clean the space was and how neatly-stacked the clothes and their other things were. When she introduced us to her two daughters, Melodia (L) stroked them tenderly. Twelve-year-old Tata showed how happy she was with all the attention from the visitors by laughing and gurgling, while 4-year-old Dayday (R) was more shy. Click here to read more of guest blogger Valerie Malabonga's report.

UPDATE: Photos of CCT's Relief and Recovery Effort in the Provinces of Iloilo and Capiz (11/22)


According to CCT staff member Dennis Monong, there are no casualties among their 3,762 community partners in Iloilo and Capiz, but 100 percent of the latter's homes and micro-businesses were affected, and in most instances totally wiped out. CCT staff members' homes and even CCT's office in Capiz were likewise damaged by Haiyan... Despite all their losses, both the CCT staff and the community partners are in good spirits. As the community partners in Fellowship 8 told me: "Crying won't do us any good." Nonetheless, they need to get their microenterprises up and running soon so they can take care of their families. Remylyn Anisco, Coordinator of Fellowship 33 in Capiz, said, "We are very thankful for the relief goods from CCT, but our fishermen need to get new boats and nets so they can fish for life." Click here for the full update.


UPDATE: A Note from CCT on Relief and Recovery Efforts on Panay Island (11/21)

"On the island of Panay alone, over 3,700 of our community partners homes and businesses were destroyed... Without being asked, CCT staff whose homes were completely flattened showed up at the office the Monday after the storm to go and visit their community partners, checking on them, praying with them, bringing relief goods, assessing their immediate and long-term needs. While the needs are great, the hope and joy still visible on the faces of our community partners and staff serves as an inspiration to continue to do whatever we can to help them re-build and get back on their feet. Thank you for your support." Click here for the full update.


UPDATE: A letter from CCT head Ruth Callanta (11/13)


We have just received this letter from the Center for Community Transformation's Ruth Callanta, who says that, so far, she and her colleagues have identified 5,470 CCT "community partner" households that have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

"We are still trying to establish communications with our co-workers in Tacloban [the hardest-hit area] and the 35 partner churches from the same area," said Ruth, continuing:

"CCT, by God's grace, is mobilizing all the funds and relief goods that we can send to the affected areas. Some of our team members and doctors are now in Capiz assessing the damage and providing medical help. We praise God for the several churches and individuals who have expressed their desire to partner with CCT."

Click here to read Ruth's entire letter.

To make a donation that will be sent directly to CCT, click here. Be sure to designate your gift for the Philippines.

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Become a Monthly Donor & 'Walk With Us'

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Become a monthly donor and join Five Talents micro-savings and loan group members on the road out of extreme poverty.



Did you know that, in the developing world, a woman or man who launches a micro-enterprise often faces the same challenges that entrepreneurs in our own country face?

Deng, a vegetable farmer and member of a Five Talents savings group in Lietnhom, South Sudan, recently told us about his own struggle to launch a sustainable business.

"I was very green in business. I had not received much of the small-scale business training that I have now, and also I lacked adequate capital to invest and boost my business," he said. "It is no wonder that it finally collapsed."

It wasn't until he joined the Five Talents program and began attending workshops and accessing micro-loans that Deng achieved a measure of success.

Make no mistake – the road out of poverty can be a long one. So far Deng has used his profits to buy a small plot of land and build a temporary shelter on it. He also bought an ox-plow, which he rents out to other smallholder farmers like himself.

Improvements in living conditions, and ultimately, real transformation is only achieved with a long-term investment in serving communities like Lietnhom.

Will you Walk With Us and become a partner in this patient, sustainable approach to empowering and equipping folks like Deng so they can achieve true financial inclusion and provide for their families?


Globe: Choose a community

Invest in the country of your choice. Five Talents is seeking to expand its savings and credit-led programs in South Sudan, Sudan, Burundi, Indonesia, Myanmar and Bolivia.

Calendar: Donate monthly

Give via credit or debit card, automatic bank withdrawal or check. Online recurring donations will be processed on the 15th of every month.

Woman: Transform lives

Your monthly support will enable women and men to participate in savings and loan groups, access basic financial services, and training in core business skills, such as accounting and marketing. Group members also receive mentoring and spiritual development.

Video: Receive exclusive updates from the field

Monthly donors will receive quarterly e-mail updates featuring unique content from the field, including infographics, impact reports, videos, stories of transformation and photo essays. Starting in 2014-2015, Walk With Us partners will also have an opportunity to participate in a conference call with Five Talents President and CEO Sonia Patterson.


Donate Button
Click here to begin your monthly donation. After selecting the amount of your recurring gift and designating a country, click "Next." The donation form will expand and you will see an option to make the donation a recurring gift.

Monthly donations may be canceled at any time by calling Five Talents at 703-242-6016.

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  • Semillas de Bendicion (Seeds of Blessings), Tarija, Bolivia
  • Anglican Diocese of Bolivia
  • Association of Evangelical Churches of Tarija

Program Type and Services:

  • Christian Microfinance Institution: “Savings-Led” with Group Savings and Guarantee

This project currently uses the simple savings and Rotating Savings and Credit Associations (ROSCA) models, but plans are in place to develop these into Accumulated Savings and Credit Associations (ASCAs) in order to provide group members with the ability to save and borrow more flexibly.

Training focus:

  • Budgeting and saving in the household
  • Business ideas, planning, marketing, price setting
  • Christian discipleship and values in business
  • Preventative health, appropriate technology where there are no basic services, nutrition classes

The Community

The Department of Tarija is located in the Southeastern part of Bolivia and borders Argentina to the south and Paraguay to the east.  The Department is divided into six provinces, and home to 20 different indigenous tribes with Spanish being the shared language.  The city of Tarija is located in a high and dry mountain valley at an altitude of 1850 meters.  About 60% of the people in Bolivia live in poverty, 25% of the population is malnourished, and 16% of the population lives on less than $1.25 per day (World Bank).

Women in these communities are primarily engaged in work on family farms, with limited access to financial, health or education services. The average number of years of schooling for rural women is only 2.5 years, while it is 4.7 years for men. Seasonal migration among the men is very high in some regions of the country, which leaves women, in many of the cases, as heads of the household.

The Program

Empowering the citizens of Tarija with business and personal finance skills are essential aspects of stimulating economic growth and improving unemployment. This partnership focuses on women’s groups in the city of Tarija as well as groups in rural communities, including El Puente, Entre Rios, Calamuchita and Valle Concepción.  These groups target those populations unable to access services from the limited microfinance industry in Tarija due to geographic or economic barriers.

Through this program, Five Talents expects clients to gain business skills as well as the habits of saving and borrowing, which will enable them to participate in enterprise development.

After operating informally for 2.5 years, Semillas de Bendicion was officially registered in 2012 as an association, the simplest organization under Bolivian law.

The Need

give10cThe project leaders need training in the establishment of ASCAs, improvement of their English-language abilities and training on the legal process of establishing a small business as well as price fixing.  Five Talents has already reached its goal to expand total outreach in Bolivia to 170 group members by the end of 2012.

We'd appreciate your continued prayers for this small but transformative program. Please help us expand our work in Bolivia either by making a one-time donation or by signing up to "Walk with Us" as a recurring donor. A monthly gift of $10 will transform up to five lives.

Are you on Facebook? Become an online advocate for Five Talents! Our online "flash drive" has everything you need to promote the work and mission of Five Talents.

Updated October 2013

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  • Mothers’ Union Burundi (Literacy and Development Program), Bujumbura, Burundi
  • Mothers’ Union UK

Program Type and Services:

  • Christian Microfinance Institution: “Savings-Led” with Group Savings and Guarantee

The community-based Savings and Loan Associations (SLAs) in this program enable group members to mobilize their own savings and lend to each other.

Training focus:

  • Budgeting and saving skills
  • Business ideas, planning, marketing, price setting

The Community

Burundi is recovering from a civil war that devastated civil society structures, contributed to high illiteracy rates and poor health care, exacerbated gender disparity and plunged large numbers of the population into abject poverty.  Thousands of people died and others were driven from their homes, leaving women and children in particular vulnerable to gender based violence or abduction.  Burundi is currently one of the poorest countries in the world, ranked 178 out of 187 countries on the UN’s Human Development Index (2013). The life expectancy at birth is just 51 years, and only 5.2% of women have at least a secondary education, compared to 9.2% of men.

At the root of the country's problems are issues such as poverty and low levels of education among women; early marriage and pregnancy; and lack of access to land, credit and training.  Some or all of these factors result in many women becoming vulnerable and further trapped in poverty.  It is especially in more remote areas that women are marginalized and face fewer opportunities for training or for credit to support income generating activities.

The Program

The Mothers' Union Literacy and Development Program has been successfully training Burundians in literacy and numeracy since 2005. Five Talents is now partnering with the Mothers' Union in order to provide business skills training as well as savings and credit group formation to the literacy program participants. By the end of FY2013, 340 savings groups will have been started and it is anticipated that 10,000 people will be beneficiaries of this project. The target population for this project is the most vulnerable communities. At least 70% of participants will be women.

The Need

give10cThe goal of this project is to build the capacity of Mothers’ Union Burundi to be able to provide training and skills in the area of savings and credit group formation and small-business skills.  We hope for women to gain literacy, manage their assets, take part in household decision-making, join a savings and credit group, establish or expand their businesses, and become empowered to take a lead on development issues within their own communities.

We'd appreciate your continued prayers for this transformative program. Please help us expand our work in Burundi either by making a one-time donation or by signing up to "Walk with Us" as a recurring donor. A monthly gift of $10 will transform up to five lives.

Are you on Facebook? Become an online advocate for Five Talents! Our online "flash drive" has everything you need to promote the work and mission of Five Talents.

Updated January 2014

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'Your Donations and Prayers Are the Bricks That Build the House of Transformation'

Celestina blog
If you were to ask 56-year-old Celestina about her life during a visit to the marketplace in Tarija, Bolivia, you would not have to wait long to hear about her children.

She'd probably tell you about her daughter Romina's continuing education.

With a twinkle in her eye, she'd no doubt brag about her grandchildren.

Celestina would also be sure to mention the house she has been building, brick by brick, with the profit from her micro-business. "One day," she says, "I will finish building my house."

Celestina's house is a great picture of what happens when a woman or man joins one of Five Talents' programs. When they learn to save money, invest loan capital in a micro-business, and participate in training workshops, their whole household is transformed.

Children are able to attend school. Extended family and friends benefit, as the group member's new knowledge trickles down into the community. Often, the household's living conditions improve as well – there's more food and better shelter.

Over time, an entire family's life begins to change – little by little, brick by brick.

Your donations, prayers and advocacy are the bricks that build the house of transformation.

When Celestina found Five Talents and our partner organization in Bolivia, Seeds of Blessing, she had already launched several micro-enterprises.

Celestina had first sold bread before moving on to corn. For a while, she was earning a decent profit from the micro-enterprise and began using some of that profit to build a house. But then unexpected costs began stealing from her profits. She'd not yet learned to save, and so her work on the house stalled. Worse yet, she no longer had money to invest in her business.

"I was worried because I needed to increase my capital in order to have more profit," Celestina said.

In desperate need of a loan, she turned to Five Talents and Seeds of Blessing.

When someone like Celestina joins a savings group, your donations help to provide loan capital, a safe place to save, and training in core business skills. In Celestina's case, an initial loan of $40 helped her to get the business back on track.

"The group gave me a loan, and with it I bought things that I needed," she said. "Now, I am selling more items, including corn, chilies and peanuts, and with what I earn I can finish building my house."

The impact of your support, however, extends far beyond the direct beneficiary, and this is part of what makes Five Talents unique.

Women like Celestina are not just getting a one-time loan, paying it back and going on with life. They are joining a community whose support and training inevitably trickles down into the lives of family and friends.
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Book Review: ‘There Is a Country: New Fiction from the New Nation of South Sudan’

There Is a Country2Last year, McSweeney's gave us our first taste of South Sudanese literature — a collection of eight pieces by South Sudanese writers titled There Is a Country: New Fiction from the New Nation of South Sudan.

The publisher notes that the volume, edited by Nyuol Lueth Tong, is "the first of its kind, from the youngest country in the world."

Just over three years ago, the people of South Sudan gained recognition as a sovereign nation. Young and old took to the streets, crying, laughing and waving flags.

The New York Times, in reporting on the historic occasion, noted, "A new nation [is] being born in what used to be a forlorn, war-racked patch of Africa, and to many it [seems] nothing short of miraculous."

Over the last two years, however, the celebrations have given way to far more ominous circumstances: continuing tensions with the North, violence between political factions in the country, displacement of entire communities and the threat of famine.

It's perhaps fitting, then, that the stories in 'There Is a Country' fall somewhere in-between the celebrations and the sporadic violence. There is romance, mischief, family conflict and dreaming — the stuff of community life everywhere, whether in the American suburbs, or in one of South Sudan's refugee camps.

In "Port Sudan Journal," Victor Lugala tells the story of a 25-year-old who has slipped across the northern border into Sudan carrying a black rucksack with a pair of blue jeans, some boxer shorts, a toothbrush and a diary, ostensibly seeking out a long-lost uncle.

"The diary had been a birthday present from my Ugandan friend, given to me before I'd left home," the young man says. "It was as if he knew that one day I would be far away, wandering without a destination in mind."

In "Escape," by Edward Eremugo Luka, the narrator describes his late-night run from a group of men friendly with the North. The action appears to take place before South Sudan's independence, after the main character's family has safely fled their hut outside of Juba. As he turns his back on his now abandoned home, he vows to return one day in the future.

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Q&A: Micro-Entrepreneur Discusses Impact of Medical Expenses on Her Family's Struggle to Overcome Poverty

Even when a woman or man is finally able to access lending and savings opportunities, as well as training in basic business skills, the road out of poverty is still never easy. In this interview, Supiati, who lives outside of Jakarta, Indonesia, shares her story and discusses the impact her husband's medical condition has had on her income-generating activities. Fortunately, Five Talents and our local partner, The Gerhati Foundation, help group members in Jakarta's slums gain access to free medical services on a quarterly basis. Click here to read more.

Supiati QAEarlier this year, there was a lot of flooding in Jakarta. How did this impact your business?
It happened suddenly at night and so we had made no preparations. We acted quickly to keep the electronic goods safe by placing them on top of the tables and cupboard. By that time, the water had already risen to below my knees. We all had to move out of the house for weeks and stayed at a place near the traditional market, a place where the floodwaters did not reach. Unfortunately, I was unable to open up my kiosks, and so fell behind with the loan installment.

How did Five Talents through our partner organization The Gerhati Foundation help you during this time?
I am grateful that we were granted some leniency [on our loan repayment]. Also, we received three separate packages of donated goods during the flood, as well as free access to a medical clinic. I thank God for Gerhati who also helped us with an additional emergency loan.

Since first joining the Five Talents program, how has your business developed?
I made chicken porridge in the past, but I failed. Other people were selling the same thing. Afterward, I tried to cook light meals that kids usually like, such as eggs and instant noodles. It is running well and I sense the need to get into the business more seriously. I can now buy things I need to support the business, like a refrigerator that lets me keep a good stock of ice cubes, drinks, and pop ice. [My] glassy display case is also another thing I bought with the micro-business loan.

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Job Opening: Donor Relations Officer with Raiser's Edge Experience

hiring smlrFive Talents is hiring! Do you know someone with database management experience who is looking to pick up some part-time hours?

The Donor Relations Officer is primarily responsible for ensuring quality and timely processing of gifts and managing the Raiser's Edge database. This opportunity is a part-time role working out of our office in Fairfax, Virginia.

Click here to view the full job description and requirements. We'd love it if you shared this link with your church network. You may also visit our Facebook Page to share our post about the job opening with your friends.

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