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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Five Talents Supporters Help Raise $110,000 in March

Great news! You did it! You helped us surpass our March fundraising goal!

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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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Shop and Support Five Talents

AmazonDid you know that you can support Five Talents' microfinance programs when you shop for books, electronics and millions of other items on

To get started, you must begin your shopping at and select Five Talents USA as your charity.

Here's how AmazonSmile works:

  • When first visiting AmazonSmile, customers are prompted to select a charitable organization from almost one million eligible organizations. In order to browse or shop at AmazonSmile, customers must first select a charitable organization.
  • For eligible purchases at AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to the customer's selected charitable organization.

For a limited time through March 31, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate an extra $5 for every customer who makes an eligible purchase at in support of Five Talents USA.

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Jeanne in Burundi: ‘Now I Feel Like a Woman of Great Worth’

Burundi_story_graphicDomithile and Jeanne are two of thousands of women and men in Burundi who are learning how to build a sustainable micro-enterprise and lift their families out of poverty.

For Domithile (R), a $7 loan from her savings group was all it took to get a wholesale banana-selling business off the ground. Previously, the mother of 10 had grown vegetables with the help of her husband, but this income-generating activity alone had not been enough to feed their family.

"With 10 children, I could not survive only with crops," she said.

In recent months, Domithile has begun to see her banana business grow, and her entire family is reaping the benefits.

"Our children respect us," she said. "I am contributing to the responsibility for the house, and I can buy medicine if we are sick and pay the school fees."

Domithile has even dared to begin dreaming again: "[I want] to buy land for my children who have not finished their studies, and I want to see those who are in school finish their studies."

Jeanne, who is in the same savings group as Domithile, was able to launch a new micro-business selling vegetables, thanks to a loan of $43.

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Photo of the Week: Sumiyati at Work

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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Children Bring Parable of the Five Talents to Life at ‘Market Day’ Event

loom_wilsonchurchWe were delighted to learn recently that Wilson Memorial Union Church in Watchung, New Jersey organized a Market Day for 4th-6th graders who had used the Five Talents Sunday School Curriculum. Can you believe it? They raised over $350!

"As the Minister of our church, I have to say I've never seen a program create as much excitement with the kids themselves as this one," said Reverend Barbara Peters. "I only wish I had experienced something similar during my time in Sunday School when I was young. And, our congregation was so supportive of all the children's efforts. It was memorable for them too!"

Here, Kim Nunn, who organized the Market Day and used the Sunday School curriculum, shares how it helped the children to apply the Bible to their lives and inspired them to raise money for women and men in Five Talents' micro-enterprise development programs:

Q: We understand that the Market Day your church organized was inspired by the Five Talents Sunday School curriculum. Can you explain how the event came about?
A: We were looking for more from our Sunday School curriculum and really wanted to get the kids "hands-on" in a multi-week program that would take their Bible lessons to a new level and show how they can apply the Bible in their lives. The stories for the upcoming weeks all included the theme of "poverty," so we chose that theme. I began looking for help online to build a program and found Five Talents! It was perfectly linked with what we wanted – and so flexible. It was perfect! I particularly loved that Five Talents does not just go in and provide people in need with a temporary gift of food or money, but rather teaches them to develop a business that can sustain them and their family for years to come.

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March Matchness: Team Up with Five Talents in March to Equip and Empower Micro-Entrepreneurs

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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