Loan Sharks Are Knocking at Their Door, But These Women Aren't Answering
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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.
Five Talents Supporters Help Raise $110,000 in March
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Great news! You did it! You helped us surpass our March fundraising goal!
In the Shade of a Tree, a Micro-Business Is Born in South Sudan
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"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.
Shop Amazon.com and Support Five Talents
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Did you know that you can support Five Talents' microfinance programs when you shop for books, electronics and millions of other items on Amazon.com?
To get started, you must begin your shopping at Smile.Amazon.com 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.
Click here to make an eligible purchase at Smile.Amazon.com in support of Five Talents USA.
Jeanne in Burundi: ‘Now I Feel Like a Woman of Great Worth’
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Domithile 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.
Photo of the Week: Sumiyati at Work
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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.
Children Bring Parable of the Five Talents to Life at ‘Market Day’ Event
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We 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.
March Matchness: Team Up with Five Talents in March to Equip and Empower Micro-Entrepreneurs
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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.
Donate in March and Your Gift Will Be Matched!
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We're delighted to announce that current and former members of the board will be matching every donation made during March, up to $50,000.
World Mission Sunday: Connecting the Global Body of Christ
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I remember sitting in a tiny Anglican Church in Tarija, Bolivia, like it was yesterday. During those beautiful moments, I felt so connected to the global body of Christ as I listened to the Spanish-language sermon and took Communion.
As a Program Officer at Five Talents, I work directly with our local partners – the people who help to implement our programs -- to support them and help them track accomplishments over time. I always tell people that I have the best job at Five Talents because I get to interact with our partners on a daily basis and encourage them in their work.
Five Talents is based out of Fairfax, VA, and our mission is to fight poverty, create jobs, and transform lives through microenterprise development and business skills training. We partner with local, grassroots organizations and the Anglican Communion in Bolivia, Peru, South Sudan, Sudan, Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Myanmar, Indonesia, and the Philippines. We seek to build the capacity of local people so they can help empower and transform their own communities. We are here because we believe in individual, family, and community transformation.
In the last four and a half years that I have worked at Five Talents, I have had the opportunity to travel to several countries to visit our partners and to see first-hand the work that they do.
If there is anything I have learned through being a part of church communities and Five Talents, it's that we need each other. We were created to be in relationship with one another. Some of the people who have most challenged me in my faith are our program partners. I wish I could introduce you to all of them! Their stories and their faith have inspired me in unimaginable ways.