Read more »
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."
Read more »
If you've spent much time on this blog, or if you read our daily tweets, you've likely stumbled across the words "financial inclusion".
Like many other buzzwords in the world of microfinance and international development, "financial inclusion" doesn't exactly define itself. The expression refers to the movement to provide basic financial services -- like formal savings and lending opportunities -- to folks who, for one reason or another, have never been able to set foot in a bank.
Where we live, it sometimes seems like there are more banks than 7-Elevens and Starbucks cafes combined. But in countries like Burundi, South Sudan, Myanmar and Bolivia, banking institutions are often few and far between. Even when women and men living on less than $2 a day are able to walk to a bank, or bike to one, they often cannot afford the fees that are required to open an account. As a result, they lean on family, friends and informal money-lenders for infusions of capital to grow their business, improve their homes or pay for their children's education.
Read more »
On October 18, Five Talents held its 2013 Fall Gala, which celebrated the lives of our micro-entrepreneurs around the world. Here are some photos from the evening. You can find even more on our Facebook Page. If you were unable to attend the gala, you can still watch this moving video that was shown during the event.
The view from the ballroom's patio at Congressional Country Club.
Items created by Five Talents' clients in Peru were in high demand at the silent auction.
Read more »
Click on the icons below to jump to inspiring stories and interviews about Five Talents' microsavings, microcredit and business training program in Bolivia.
Read more »
We're always delighted when we get to spend time with our amazing partners. In September, Eva, the co-founder of Semillas de Bendicion (Seeds of Blessings), our partner organization in Bolivia, came to DC for a visit. Here, we talk with her about the program in Bolivia, the importance of training women and her first Major League Baseball game. (Sadly, the Nationals lost – a recurring theme this season.)
Q: Eva, it was really a blessing to spend time with you in September. You told us that the Nationals baseball game we attended with you in DC was your very first Major League Baseball game. What did you enjoy about the experience? And did you get to try a hotdog?
A: Truly, I enjoyed seeing my first baseball game. I felt like I was one of the players – it was interesting to see the different moods of the fans. It's grand to have a team, to be part of one. I saw the team on the field playing and working hard, and then I saw the beautiful team [sitting with me], not forgetting that we have a goal in common – to win our fight against ignorance, poverty, and the many evils that lurk. And, of course, I had the traditional hot dog. Some said that it wasn't very healthy, but it was only one, and I liked it – it had a delicious taste. But the most delicious flavor I still savor is the kindness of my colleagues, their love, and their smiles. I thank the Lord for my friends at Five Talents.
Q: During your visit, when talking about the program in Bolivia, you said, "When you train women, you're winning the whole family." Can you share examples of how you have seen this truth played out in the life of a woman and her family?
A: [When my sister and I were young,] our mom sometimes went out to receive training, because her life was very hard before getting married. At first, we didn't like it when she left the house, but when she returned she always had a snack that they had given her in the training. And she would tell the whole family what she had learned. Gradually, we began to like when she would attend these trainings. And when we grew up, we noticed that we also did the same thing. If we went to a party or a meeting to learn something, we took what we could home to share with the family. This was a complete joy. Now, my younger sisters do the same thing, and many other families in Bolivia also. Maybe this is something cultural.
Our dad told us it is important to teach a mother because then she will share everything with her family. This has been our experience with the groups. One of our clients always took part of her snack to her house to share with her family, and they enjoyed it as well as hearing about what she had learned. The husband, who before didn't want his wife to leave the house to go to the [group] meetings, now says, "It's time to go to the workshop. Be careful to return." Many things change in the house of a woman who receives training, thanks to God. As women, we like to talk and share what we have learned with our family. Matilda is another example. Now, thanks to her, her oldest daughter and her husband have joined a savings group. The transformation not only impacted her life, but also her family members' lives.
Read more »
Editor's Note: This article by The Reverend Jeff MacKnight first appeared last week on the official blog of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. Father MacKnight, a Five Talents board member, is the Rector at St. Dunstan's Church in Bethesda, MD.
I know we'll never all agree on the hot-topic issues, but I still hope we can act together on basic Christian values, like helping the poorest folks in the world. Five Talents is an Anglican organization that does just that through microfinance services at the grassroots level in the poorest countries of the world.
Five Talents was started at a global meeting of Anglican Church leaders, in response to their deep concern for the poorest of the poor. The founders wanted to guard the dignity of poor people, and assist them by creating jobs and opportunities to rise out of poverty, so in 1998, Five Talents was founded. Its byline says it all: "Fighting Poverty, Creating Jobs, Transforming Lives."
I've been involved with Five Talents for years, and now serve on its Board. St. Dunstan's has supported Five Talents projects in the Dominican Republic and Peru.
One of the things that excites me about Five Talents is the faith-based organization's focus on transforming not only the financial situation of their clients, but also their social and spiritual wellbeing.
A great example of this transformation is the story of Carmen in Bolivia. This 35-year-old woman, a single mother, sells cosmetics and, on weekends, works as a kitchen assistant in a restaurant. Carmen is also the treasurer of a Five Talents savings group that calls themselves the "Saving Bees."
Awhile back, Carmen's son, Luis, became very sick. Under normal circumstances, she would not have had any money to pay for medical treatment. As a result, she would have had to borrow money from her business – or from a loan shark. Either one of these options would have set her family back.
Fortunately, she had been saving money every week through the Five Talents savings group. So when Luis became sick, she was able to use some of that savings to pay for a medical procedure.
"If I had not saved money, I don't know what I would have done to get the money," she told staff from Five Talents' partner organization in Bolivia, Semillas de Bendicion (Seeds of Blessing).
But this is only half of the story.
Carmen's spirit was troubled when she first joined the Five Talents program. She rarely smiled and could sometimes act harshly with others.
"She didn't leave her house, and she didn't talk much with her family. The saddest part was that you didn't see her smile – she simply escaped from any activity that could provoke a smile," said Sara, a staff member at Semillas de Bendicion. "But without a doubt she was the best in how she handled numbers, and she was very honest." That's why, last year, her peers elected her to be the group's new treasurer.
Read more »
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!
Read more »
Carmen, a single mom in Tarija, Bolivia, sells cosmetics and works as a kitchen helper on weekends. She has been saving money -- a little every week -- for three years, building up an emergency fund for herself and her son, Luis.
Recently, she had to tap into that savings -- to pay for her son's surgery.
"Last year my son got seriously ill, and the doctor said that he should operate on my son to remove his tonsils," said Carmen, who serves as the treasurer of her savings group. "Never in my life had I heard of this type of operation. I was really scared, and the operation was very expensive.
"I didn't want them to operate on my son, but he couldn't eat or drink water, so I took him to the hospital. Now, he is healthy and laughing and talking a lot, as always. He is my only company, and if I had not saved money, I don't know what I would have done to get the money."
Read more »
To celebrate our new office space in northern Virginia, we held an "open house" for friends, supporters and neighbors -- new and old -- on Thursday, September 19.
Eva, from our partner organization in Bolivia, Semillas de Bendicion (Seeds of Blessings), was our very special guest for the evening.
Below, you'll find some photos taken during the informal gathering. To view the full gallery, visit our Facebook Page.
Please note that while Five Talents has moved its offices, our phone numbers, P.O. box and primary mailing address remain the same. Donations made by check can still be sent to P.O. Box 331, Vienna, VA 22183. Or you can give online by clicking here.
Eva (L) talks with Five Talents Program Officer McKenzie Butler and Colleen Dyble (R), a former Five Talents Fellow.
Five Talents friends and supporters Joe Paulini (L) and Frankie Stahlhut are members of the Church of the Holy Comforter, in Vienna, VA, where Five Talents had previously based its US offices.
Read more »
This morning we had the pleasure of welcoming Eva (center), one of the co-founders of our partner organization in Bolivia, Semillas de Bendicion (Seeds of Blessing), to our new offices in Fairfax, VA. She'll spend this afternoon touring DC with McKenzie (right), our program officer. On Thursday, Eva will be a very special guest at our open house -- we hope you'll drop by to meet her!
During our staff meeting, Eva shared about the microsavings and training program in Bolivia. She and her sister, Sara, reach out to women in and around the city of Tarija and set up savings groups. These groups are hubs not only for saving money from income-generating activities and micro-enterprises, but also for training group members in accounting, marketing, and developing specific types of micro-enterprises.
The great thing about working with women, Eva said, is that the women bring what they learn home to their children and seek to make it part of everyone's lives.
"When you train women, you're winning the whole family," she said, noting the important role women play within the family unit in Bolivia.