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To 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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The Fall Gala on October 18 is our biggest fundraising event of the year. If you're on the fence about attending, here are a few reasons why you should register today:
1. You'll get to meet Claudette from Burundi.
You hear us talk a lot about the wonderful people we work with in our programs. Now, you get to meet one and learn, first-hand, how your dollars and advocacy for Five Talents are changing lives. Claudette, a Burundian woman who works with the microsavings program in Burundi, is coming all the way to Washington, DC to join us for the Fall Gala. Help us honor her – and the women and men she has devoted her life to serving – by attending on October 18.
2. You'll have a chance to bid on gorgeous lacquerware from Myanmar.
Our executive director, Sonia Patterson, recently returned from program visits to Indonesia and Myanmar. On full display at the silent auction will be an incredible collection of artifacts from around the world, including wood carvings from Indonesia, and gorgeous lacquerware from Myanmar. There will also be many other items up for bidding – including weekend getaways and jewelry. All proceeds from these silent auction items will help more women and men join savings and loan groups, receive training and develop their micro-enterprises. Register today so you'll have a chance to bid on these one-of-a-kind artifacts!
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It won't be long before children across the country begin another academic year. There's the requisite trip to the store for school supplies. The nice, new outfits. The big, yellow buses.
In many of the communities where Five Talents works, the situation is quite different. There's no school bus, because there are often no roads – only dirt paths. Classrooms have no electricity. What's worse, many children never even have a chance to attend school. Their parents simply can't afford the uniforms, pencils and notebooks.
However, because of Five Talents, this is changing.
Our savings, microcredit and business skills training programs help moms and dads establish a sustainable micro-enterprise that can provide for their family and pay for their children's education.
The success of our programs – and these parents' micro-enterprises – trickles down into the family.
We have moms and dads joining our programs not only to improve their finances, but because they want their children to go to school – to learn to read and write, add and subtract.
Outside of Jakarta, Tina (pictured above with her children) is running a business selling snacks and drinks near a school campus. Before Five Talents and our partner in Indonesia, GERHATI, helped her launch this business, the former factory worker was unable to pay her children's school fees. But now she's earning enough to cover the cost of uniforms ($60 a year), books ($10 per semester) and after-school care ($10 a month).
Tina says that she wants her children to get the most out of school, so she does not ask them to do any housework. Her only request beyond studying hard? "Pray every day," she tells them.
In rural Peru, Francisca (on left) wakes her children every morning with a simple breakfast of oats, chuño and corn. "We have to eat very well because we have to go to the city on foot," she said.
With no other transportation options, journeys like this to school and work are the norm for Francisca and her family.
With the help of an initial loan of 500 soles ($167) from Five Talents, Francisca was able to put her children in school and launch a second micro-enterprise selling fruit in bulk.
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This photograph from our 2011 archives shows staff with our partner in Peru visiting a loan group in rural Huancavelica.Five Talents works in the country with ECLOF Peru to provide savings and lending opportunities, business skills training and spiritual mentoring, mostly to women micro-entrepreneurs.
The program works like this: The micro-entrepreneurs self-organize into groups with other entrepreneurs that they trust, and with whom they share common business goals. Each entrepreneur is given their own loan, but the re-payment of the loan is guaranteed by the group. These loans have short re-payment cycles. Over time, the entrepreneurs can incrementally increase the size of their loans and incorporate savings into their business practices.
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Watch this new video featuring Executive Director Sonia Patterson talking about Five Talents' unique approach to micro-enterprise development.
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Mother's Day is almost here, but it's not too late to express your thanks and love to the special women in your life, while also empowering mothers in Five Talents' microsavings and microcredit programs.
Here are a couple of ways that you can make Mother's Day extra-special this year:
- Submit a photograph of your mom, grandmother or aunt to be published on Five Talents' "Talented Moms" Pinterest board. Every photo is a $5 donation to Five Talents! Once we post the photo, you can share the Pinterest board with your loved one. She'll be delighted to see herself among the ranks of the world's most "Talented Moms"! To submit a photo, e-mail it to
or tweet it to @FiveTalents along with the hash tag "#TalentedMoms".
- Send your mom, grandmother, aunt or wife a Five Talents "Love Always Hopes" eCard that will empower a woman in the country of your choice -- Peru, Bolivia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Burundi or South Sudan.
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This photo taken by David Middleton for Five Talents captures a micro-entrepreneur at her stand along a street in Peru.
The interactive elements will take you to a photo essay showing how one artisan creates her colorful llama wool scarves, and to a video featuring an interview with Colleen Dyble, a Five Talents fellow who worked with our partner in Peru, ECLOF, from 2009 to 2011.
"Most of our clients already have some sort of business by the time that we meet them," says Colleen in the video. "A lot of people do what they see their neighbors doing. Some are savvy enough to understand that there's a gap in the market that needs to be filled – [like] ice cream in the summer. Others start something because it's what their mother did or their grandmother did. They just have learned the trade over the years."
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If you were to travel with one of us on a program visit, we would inevitably take you to a local marketplace to meet a few of our micro-entrepreneurs. As we walked past market stands, we'd tick off the types of products being sold: bananas, potatoes, second-hand clothing, cups of tea.
Many micro-entrepreneurs sell products that have been purchased in bulk or grown on their own plot of land. Some, though, take an existing product – or a discarded one – and refashion it in some way in order to add value.
We've written about Reech, a micro-entrepreneur in Wau, South Sudan who takes old mosquito nets and turns them into rope.
We've shown you the children's sweaters that Marta sews in Peru.
During Program Director Suzanne Schultz Middleton's last trip to South Sudan, she met Adon (R), a woman in a Five Talents savings and loan group who was selling peanut paste at a market in Kuajok.
"In South Sudan, a lot of people are bringing goods in. That's how they add value -- just by transporting things. But this woman had cultivated some ground nuts, what we call peanuts, and she'd turned them into paste (peanut butter) and sold it," said Suzanne (L). "Through her own work she had added value."
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The end of the year is fast approaching. But the road out of poverty is long and hard.
In order to continue meeting our commitments to micro-entrepreneurs in places like Bolivia, South Sudan and Myanmar, Five Talents needs your support.
For an example of how your generosity can change a whole community, look no further than this project in Malakal, South Sudan, where over 10,000 participants have been given what is often their first opportunity to become literate and numerate.
For stories of individual lives transformed, look no further than those of Rosma in the Philippines, Narcisa in Peru, and Roda in Sudan.
Here are five ways you can make a tax-deductible donation and help us keep these women – and tens of thousands of others – on the road out of poverty:
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Over the next three weeks, you'll have to decide on gifts for a select group of friends and family members.
Fortunately, we've got a gift idea that we think you'll love: Instead of buying them a Starbucks gift card, or a tree ornament, send your loved ones a Five Talents e-card.
Here's how it works:
- Visit our eGift Catalog and pick from among the 10 e-card options. Prices range from $25 to $50. Every e-card features beautiful photography that captures an aspect of Five Talents' work in a particular country. Your purchase will count as a donation for that particular country and program.
- At the end of your transaction, you will be prompted to enter the e-mail addresses of either 5 individuals (for every $25 e-card) or 10 individuals (for every $50 e-card). Each person will receive an e-card explaining that a gift was made in his or her honor towards Five Talents' work in, for example, savings group formation in South Sudan (see the above e-card image of the "One Nation" savings group in South Sudan).
Your e-card purchases are tax-deductible, and they are a great way to spread holiday cheer and share the joy of giving with your loved ones.
With every e-card purchase, you are contributing to the transformation of lives in some of the most under-served communities in the world.
Click here to send a set of Five Talents e-cards today!