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Kenya in the Spotlight at Five Talents' Fall Gala on Oct. 17

Jane in Kenya
Five Talents is delighted to announce that Peterson Karanja will be the featured speaker at the 2014 Fall Gala.

Peterson is the Chief Executive of Thika Community Development Trust (TCDT), Five Talents' partner organization in the Anglican Diocese of Thika in Kenya. He is an accomplished technical trainer, specializing in micro and small-enterprise development, with over 20 years' experience in the sector.

Attendees will hear first-hand at the Gala about the impact that donors have made in the lives of Kenyan women, like Jane (pictured here), who runs a clothing micro-enterprise.

Five Talents, with our partner in Kenya, have established 53 village savings and loan groups with over 5,300 members. The groups and their portfolios continue to grow, and this has led to the creation of three new village "banks" – secure buildings where group members can conduct their business daily rather than at lengthy meetings.

In the coming year, with the continued support of donors like you, the banks will begin trials to move away from paper record-keeping in favor of digital solutions and mobile money, a tool that is rapidly being adopted even among the poor and marginalized.

Click here to register for the Fall Gala.

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Letter from the President and CEO: Five Talents' 2013-2014 Annual Report

Annual Report CoverToday, I'm excited to announce the release of our 2013-2014 Annual Report!

Think of it as a family scrapbook containing photos, news and stories from some of the 79,000 women and men who benefitted from your support, advocacy and prayers over the last 12 months.

"Because of this program, I can feed and send my children to school," Supiati, a woman I met in Indonesia, told me. "When my husband became sick, my fellow group members came and helped us financially to pay for his medical treatment. It was like help from above."

"Help from above." I love those words from Supiati.

In our programs, God uses members of savings and loan groups to help one another. He also uses our staff members, our local partners – and people just like yourself.

This is just one example of how "community transformation" spans borders, oceans, cultures and languages. You, me, Supiati, our other clients and partners around the world – we are truly all part of one community, one family.

This Annual Report captures one year in the life of our joint mission to fight poverty, create jobs and transform lives. Click here to download the PDF.
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Hand-Crafted Items from Myanmar, Indonesia, Bolivia and Kenya to be Featured at Silent Auction on October 17

Gala items

Five Talents' 2014 Fall Gala is just around the corner, and we have collected some gorgeous items for a special silent auction featuring hand-made goods from our program countries.

The above photos provide just a taste of what will be up for bidding: lacquerware platters and bowls from Myanmar, hand-knit pillow cases from Bolivia, intricate silver jewelry from Indonesia, lovely handbags and purses from Kenya... the list goes on and on.

For photo previews of the hand-crafted silent auction items, visit the Fall Gala Facebook Page and be sure to RSVP so you will be notified of subsequent updates.

Click here to reserve seats for the Fall Gala, which will be held at a private country club in Bethesda, MD and include dinner, live entertainment and a special guest from Five Talents' program in Kenya.

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Savings Groups Help Low-Income Families ‘Put Their Money to Work’

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When a financial advisor says, "Put your money to work for you," stocks, index funds, high-yield CDs and other investments probably come to mind.

But what if you had no access to E-Trade, Charles Schwab, or even a neighborhood bank? What if the closest financial institution wouldn't even accept your deposit? Or what if the fees for setting up an account and making deposits outweighed the benefits of using such services?

How, then, would you "put your money to work"?

The answer for many women and men in rural, under-served communities across the developing world is "by participating in savings groups."

Last week, Julie Zollmann, an associate at Bankable Frontier Associates, gave a talk at CGAP headquarters in Washington D.C. about a financial diaries research project that she headed up in Kenya. Julie and her colleagues recorded detailed financial transactions and tracked the habits of 300 low-income families in both urban and rural communities in Kenya.

Their meticulous research showed that these individuals – many of whom are micro-entrepreneurs – are quite active money managers. They are always looking for ways to put their money to work, and savings groups are among their favorite tools.

"Most...saving was quite intentionally pushed into financial assets—like savings groups—where it could not be immediately withdrawn," Zollmann writes in a blog post for CGAP's website.

"These kinds of devices are playing an important role in the portfolio, helping money build up into useful, investible sums. And, most of the time, they are also playing an auxiliary function. This money, our respondents told us, is not just sitting there – it is working. While the respondents have a future claim on those funds, they serve another purpose in the immediate, such as enabling a loan or enabling a friend or neighbor to invest today. Money that just sits around idle under the mattress—even in a bank account—is seen as wasted."

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2014 Fall Gala to Highlight Five Talents' Micro-Savings Programs

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On October 17, friends and supporters of Five Talents will have an opportunity to learn -- first-hand -- about the organization's programs in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The 2014 Fall Gala, titled "Portraits of Empowerment", will feature a special guest and speaker from Five Talents' program in Kenya.

Guests will also enjoy a delicious meal and a silent auction featuring beautiful hand-crafted products from Myanmar, Indonesia, Kenya, Bolivia and other countries where Five Talents works.

Attendees will also get an inside look at how their participation in the event and support of Five Talents directly benefits the lives of women and men struggling along the road out of poverty, through access to micro-business loans, savings group formation, business skills training, and mentoring.

Click here to find out more about the special event and purchase tickets.

Our annual Fall Gala provides a great opportunity to introduce friends and family to the work of Five Talents. Click here to invite people in your network via the Fall Gala Facebook Event page.

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A Video Invitation For You and Your Friends to 'Walk With Us'

Walk With Us: Provide a Helping Hand Along the Road Out of Poverty from Five Talents on Vimeo.

We're excited to share with you this short video slideshow featuring photography from Adam Dickens, a longtime Five Talents supporter, along with an invitation to "walk with us" as a monthly donor.

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'Our Work Is Serving Those Whom Other Organizations Deem As Too Risky'

Janet in Kenya
In April, Mahoo Lyimo, Development Officer with Five Talents UK, traveled to Kenya to spend time with program staff and savings group members.

Among the women she met was Janet (pictured above), a member of the Malyatte Trust Group in Embu, Kenya.

Since joining a savings group, Janet has moved from sporadic work, such as picking tea leaves, to setting up a micro-business selling grocery items. She can now employ people -- something that she never thought possible. She has access to small loans. She can afford to pay for her children's school fees, and she generally feels more empowered, thanks to the support of fellow group members.

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Slideshow: The Year in Instagram Photos

We couldn't squeeze photos of all 72,725 women and men who participated in our micro-enterprise development programs during 2013 into this brief slideshow. But we picked about 30 favorites from our Instagram feed, mixed in a clip of Gungor's "I Am Mountain" (a great song!) and whipped up this musical collage as a thank-you to supporters like you.

You'll find photos of women and men whose lives are being transformed thanks to their participation in savings groups, loan groups and business skills training seminars.
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Download and Read Five Talents' 2012-2013 Annual Report

AR1213_cover_smTo all of us here at Five Talents, November is an important month. It is around this time that we get to release our latest annual report and share stories, statistics and testimonies about the transformation that is happening across Asia, Africa and Latin America -- because of you.

Your prayers, advocacy and donations helped Five Talents serve 72,725 women and men in 2012-2013. As Dr. April Young, Chair of Five Talents USA's Board of Directors, puts it in her letter on Page 2 of the annual report, that is "72,725 stories" that each of you have played a role in over the last 12 months.

We are so grateful for the support of our friends and donors, and we trust that you will find our 2012-2013 Annual Report as inspiring as we do.

When you hear a woman like Matilda, in Bolivia, explaining how she challenged her family to save for their children's education; when you hear Consolate, in Burundi, attesting to her husband's transformation as a father and as an image-bearer of God; when you hear Nena, in the Philippines, explaining how she uses some of the profit from her micro-enterprises to help her neighbors, we hope you will also hear the voice of the Master saying to his faithful, trustworthy servant, "Well done."

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Weekly Window: On the Road Outside of Thungururu, Kenya

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This lovely photo was taken by Mahoo Lyimo, Development Officer with Five Talents UK, during her recent program visit to Kenya. She was on the road outside of Thungururu Village, the latest community to celebrate the arrival of a new community-owned bank, when she and those with her came upon this group of school children.

In a recent blog post, she wrote about the folks she met in Thungururu:

Formerly some people were travelling up to 60km to visit their local bank. These village banks have improved financial access considerably. The village banks are also flexible enough to adapt to the changing needs of their communities and can adapt their products accordingly. For the savvier minded member they can even own shares in the village bank and get a healthy return at the end of the year.

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