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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  • 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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Generosity's Palette: Our Conversation with McLean-Based Business Owner Renate Eschmann

Renate Eschmann, owner of the McLean-based family businesses Color Wheel and Gallery 65, has been a long-time supporter of Five Talents. Each year, Color Wheel sponsors Five Talents' annual X-OUT Extreme Poverty Golf Classic. Here, we talk with Renate about her passion for alleviating global poverty, her business, and her approach to charity.

Photo of Renate Eschmann at Color Wheel
Renate introduces interior design expert Sally Morse during an in-store event in April. Click here to view more photos on Color Wheel's Facebook Page.

Q: You saw extreme poverty first-hand during several mission trips. What was that like?
A: Through Truro Church, but with another organization, I went to Uganda three times. Seeing widespread's incomprehensible when you realize how these people live, and what they lack: running water, homes, clothing, medical care. You realize how important it is to be a part of the economy wherever you're living, so that you can earn a living. During the trip, I realized that a difference can be made with very few dollars. Every dollar makes a huge difference in these people's lives.

Q: How does Five Talents' mission to bring financial services and training to micro-entrepreneurs resonate with you as a business owner?
A: What Five Talents does is so critical. It's not just about the microfinance, but also the training. When you know the components of what goes into a business – not just the finance part of it, but the management, the marketing, the inventory control, the understanding of what the cost of goods are – it allows you to determine how you can actually make a profit, or if you can make a profit, which is what makes a successful business. So it's all the different components [of the Five Talents programs] that resonate with me.

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Recruit a Team of Charity Golfers With Help From Arnold Palmer and Hank Aaron

If the warmer weather has you itching to play a little golf, why not register today for the 2014 X-OUT Extreme Poverty Golf Classic?

Better yet, why not invite a few friends to join you?

On Monday, May 19, we'll gather at the newly renovated and redesigned Westwood Country Club in Vienna, Virginia to support Five Talents' microcredit and business skills training program in Indonesia.

Every person who registers will fund the cost of a $120 micro-loan. Recruit a team and you'll help as many as four micro-entrepreneurs access micro-loans and training in core business skills.

Keep in mind that players under 30 years old receive a 30 percent discount!

We've created a set of e-cards that you can browse and use to recruit a team. Each contains a humorous quotation about golf from the likes of Arnold Palmer, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

So give your golf buddies a laugh and invite them to join you in supporting micro-entrepreneurs in Jakarta, Indonesia.

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Loan Sharks Are Knocking at Their Door, But These Women Aren't Answering

We often take our access to ATMs, neighborhood banks and credit cards for granted. For a majority of the world's poor, however, convenient, low-cost financial services are simply out of reach.

Such is the case for women and men living in slum communities outside of Jakarta, Indonesia.

Until Five Talents and our partner organization, The Gerhati Foundation, began working outside of Jakarta, micro-entrepreneurs' only option for borrowing money was often through loan sharks that charge exorbitant interest rates.

This video explains how Five Talents' programs give women access to micro-business loans, business skills training and mentoring.

Since the program's start in 2005, Five Talents and The Gerhati Foundation have served more than 10,000 people.

  • In FY2013 alone, Five Talents distributed 2,382 micro-loans.
  • 100 percent of the program participants receive training in core business skills.
  • 100 percent are now able to send their children to school, thanks in part to the growth and development of their micro-businesses.

Click here to donate to Five Talents' work in Indonesia.

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In the Shade of a Tree, a Micro-Business Is Born in South Sudan

Akoi_small"When I came to Wau, I had not a single coin in my hand."

Akoi, 32 years old and a mother of two children, was sent away by her husband because he could not afford her medical care. With her kids in tow, she caught a ride to the town of Wau, in South Sudan, and appeared in the doorway of her mother's hut.

"My mother could not assist me with the children, since she gets only her little salary," she said. "I felt hopeless, and I did not know what do with my children."

Akoi tells her story now with a smile, because her life has since changed. But in the days following her move to Wau, providing even a slice of bread to her children seemed an impossible feat.

Initially, she began working with some farmers on the outskirts of the town so that she could buy food for her children.

One day, a woman invited Akoi to join her savings group. She explained how the Five Talents program works: The group comes together, agrees on a "constitution" defining procedures and interest rates, and then begins contributing to a collective savings pool. Out of this pool, group members lend to one another.

These small loans, the woman continued, would give Akoi an opportunity to begin her own micro-enterprise. Akoi would also receive training in basic business skills and guidance from the group facilitator.

Akoi liked what she heard and joined the group in January of 2013. With her first loan of about $35 she bought some cloth to make bed sheets, as well as tea leaves, powdered milk and sugar in order to set up a tea business outside the campus of the University of Bahr el Ghazal.

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