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Sumiyati's micro-enterprise involves making wedding accessories and renting bridal gowns. She has been in business for 13 years, and her success has made her a respected member in her community outside of Jakarta. As a loan group leader, she hosts regular group meetings in her home and helps to mentor other women who are just starting their own micro-enterprises.
You can support Indonesian women like Sumiyati by participating in our ongoing crowd-funding campaign.
In January, over 400 current loan group members in Indonesia were affected or displaced by flood waters. As the waters recede and people clean and rebuild, Five Talents and our local partner, the Gerhati Foundation, hope to make 250 business loans at an average cost of $100 per loan.
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Every March, we fall in love again with the story of a Cinderella. A ragtag team from a humble home arena catch a ride on a bullet train to national prominence.
This year, there's another story of transformation, another team of destiny. And you can be on it.
You can help to write the story – not of a Cinderella team, but of micro-entrepreneurs like Mary in Burundi, and Melia in Indonesia.
Donate in March to Five Talents and your gift will be matched. Turn your $10 into $20, your $50 into $100, and turn a woman's life towards hope, dignity and opportunity.
Please give what you can.
We also hope you will share this video on Facebook, Twitter or via e-mail, using the social sharing buttons at the top of this post. Let your friends, colleagues and family know about the micro-enterprise development work that Five Talents is doing in some of the world's most under-served communities.
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Five Talents goes where others don't.
We target high-risk, under-served communities where most people are unable to get traditional loans or other banking services. We work in post-conflict communities in Sudan, South Sudan and Burundi. We work in rural Myanmar, in the slums of Jakarta, Indonesia, and in the mountains of Peru, among other countries.
Five Talents helps the whole person.
We give micro-business loans to our participants. They get training in core business skills. Their local group facilitators and trainers serve as mentors. And they learn to save for when crisis hits, such a drought or an illness.
Five Talents works primarily among women, who are often catalysts for change in the home.
Women gain influence in the household when they return home with savings they've accrued or profit from a micro-business. For example, Florence in South Sudan began making more financial decisions in her family after joining a savings and loan group. Her husband told us, "I want to sell a goat to buy some nails for building, but she [my wife] has to agree first." He added, "Now you have to ask your wife even if you want to sell a chicken!" Often, the women pass this knowledge on to others in the home.
Five Talents partners with local organizations.
Our partner organizations and their staff members are better-equipped to carry on their work thanks to Five Talents. Local staff members help us tailor each program to the needs of each individual community. We also partner in each country with the local church.
Five Talents measures impact.
We track the number of loans distributed and repaid, as well as collective savings. We also look at how family life and communities are being transformed.
Download the "Why Five Talents?" infosheet
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This Valentine's Day, show your friends and family some love with an e-card that will benefit Five Talents' microsavings, microcredit and business skills training programs in Burundi, South Sudan and Indonesia.
Each e-card costs just $10 to send. These "valentines" will help others in your network -- friends, family, colleagues -- learn about the transformative impact you are having in partnership with Five Talents.
They will also make a direct impact in the lives of the women and men in our programs. For example, by sending just five Burundi-themed e-cards you will help one woman or man in Burundi gain access to a savings group, lending capital, and training.
Click here to select an e-card and support financial inclusion in the developing world.
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The year ahead promises to be a good one for books covering international development-related topics like poverty, financial inclusion and microfinance. Here are a few of the titles we're looking forward to reading in 2014:
The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor, by William Easterly (March 2014)
The best-selling author of The White Man's Burden returns with a much-anticipated book about how the historic "fight" against global poverty has "trampled" on the rights of the very people it aims to help. Easterly argues for a new model of development "predicated on respect for the individual rights of people in developing countries" – one that "understands that unchecked state power is the problem and not the solution."
Indonesia, Etc.: Exploring the Improbable Nation, by Elizabeth Pisani (June 2014)
Indonesia -- with its 13,500 islands – ranks among the world's most fascinating and complex nations. Jakarta, for example, is the Twitter capital of the world. And yet, in Indonesia, 80 million people do not have electricity in their homes. Pisani, who has been a foreign correspondent for Reuters, the Economist and the Asia Times, traveled 26,000 miles "in search of the links that bind this impossibly disparate nation." We suspect the book will be a must-read for anyone desiring to learn more about Indonesia.
A Poisonous Thorn in Our Hearts: Sudan and South Sudan's Bitter and Incomplete Divorce, by James Copnall (May 2014)
As the former BBC Sudan correspondent James Copnall argues in his new book, there's a bitter core to the shiny new country -- South Sudan -- whose formation many in the West have been celebrating. Of particular interest here will be Copnall's interviews with ordinary citizens who make up the fabric of this young, troubled nation struggling to establish itself in the shadow of its influential neighbor.
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The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote the following in 1967: "The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil. ... The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty."
So much time has passed since Dr. King wrote these words, but they're still just as true today.
We can all do better at serving folks here in the US and overseas who don't know where their next meal will come from, or how they will buy clothes for their kids, or where they will sleep tonight.
A meal, a smile, a kind, encouraging word, some blankets, a warm shelter, a heartfelt prayer, a few dollars -- we'd probably be surprised to learn how much such small things like these can accomplish.
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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.