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Sunday, August 23, 2009

With a Little Help From Friends

Impoverished families often find themselves tossed aside, left to languish on the side of the road like discarded household items that are either broken or deemed less than useful by their owners.

When HOPE International Development Agency first met Marie Fe, she was an impoverished young Filipino mother residing in the Philippine city of Calamansian - discarded by society you might say

When our HOPE Filipino colleagues spoke with Marie Fe, they did not see a broken woman tossed aside by society; they saw a person who had a valuable contribution to make, to both her community and her family!

Today, through her ingenuity and hard work, and a little help from a HOPE micro credit lending program, Marie Fe has created a sustainable livelihood amidst the discarded. Marie Fe’s family-run business recycles, reuses, and resells what others, far more fortunate than her, toss aside.

In addition to creating a sustainable livelihood, Marie Fe is also making a valuable contribution to the local economy and the environment. Collecting discarded, but valuable items from the streets and alleys is just one part of her business. Marie Fe’s business also buys discarded items, by the kilogram, direct from walk-in sellers, and in doing so, creates new value for her and her customers.

HOPE has had the privilege of helping Marie Fe build her business and livelihood since 1995, when a local micro credit program we established provided Marie Fe with her first modest, low interest loan. There have been a number of loans since, and in every case, Marie Fe has paid back her loans quickly – a sign that her business is thriving!

Today, Marie Fe and her family live in a modest but comfortable home, directly connected to her expanded shop and storefront. A pioneer member of our Camarin Micro Credit Branch, Marie Fe is now leads a group of 30 women entrepreneurs in her area. In addition to running her own successful business, Marie Fe tends to the needs of the members, guiding them as they develop sustainable livelihoods for themselves and their families.

Marie Fe’s success lays in her ability to see value where others cannot. She likes to say she sees the “shine”, and hence the value, just below the surface on a piece of rusty, discarded metal.

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