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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Microfinance: Is it an effective way to help the poor?

In 1976 Muhammad Yunus, an economics professor at Chittagong University in Bangladesh, visited the poverty-stricken village of Jobra. While there he met a few women who were struggling to grow their businesses. He decided to lend them $27, with zero interest, and was surprised to have the loan repaid, in full, in a short period of time – this $27 no interest loan started the movement towards microfinance in the developing world.

Microfinance is the act of giving small, low-interest loans, to people in developing countries who wouldn’t otherwise be able to get one. These loans are often used to build small businesses and create sustainable sources of income.

In recent years, however, the effectiveness of many microfinance programs has come into question. This is largely due to creditors who behave like profiteers, charging high interest rates and having no interaction with the people receiving loans beyond meeting with them when the loan was provided.

It’s no surprise that many of these programs are ineffective when the organizations running them don’t have the borrower’s best intention at heart.

Microfinancing works when the focus is on helping the people you’re partnering with.

At HOPE International Development Agency, we embed ourselves into the communities that we’re supporting by offering training and advice, and we don’t charge exorbitant interest because our intention is not to profit from the people we’re partnering with. The modest amounts of interest that may be generated by loans is always invested in the community, helping them build up a local pool of money that can be used to help community members lift themselves out of poverty.

We work with community groups, cooperatives, and individuals, supporting them in using the loans to build sustainable income and savings. This means, for example, that women are able to successfully launch their own businesses, and families can buy livestock to raise and sell at the market to generate income.

Families participating in our community-owned microfinance programs consistently see positive results because we are invested in the success of each of community group, cooperative, and individual.

Microfinance is one of the many ways your support enables families to own their success and their future.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Giving safe drinking water to children in Bonke, Ethiopia

Chosa, in southern Ethiopia’s Bonke region, is one of the deadliest places on earth for children.

Located well off the beaten path, the small village has suffered in silence for decades. An extraordinary number of children have lost their lives because of the unsafe water they are forced to drink.

In Chosa, and so many other villages just like it, one child in every household is sick at least once per week.

Even more troubling is the fact that one in every five children in this region die before the age of five.

The fact that we’ve been able to provide safe drinking water to 70,000 of the 160,000 people who live in Bonke is of little comfort to parents in villages like Chosa where help has not yet arrived.

The safe water is there, in underground springs that flow right beneath the surface in the hills just beyond the village; in fact, our Ethiopian water specialists know exactly where it is.

What isn’t there, at the moment, is the help that only you can provide to build a water system that will carry the safe water down from the hills and into the village of Chosa. The same is true in other villages in Bonke, just like Chosa, that we’ve not yet been able to help.

A gift of just $40 will ensure that a child has safe water to drink. Please help today.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Celebrating friendships

A wonderful evening together is one of the hallmarks of a great friendship, and as a friend of HOPE International Development Agency and the hundreds of thousands of families you enable us to help each year, you’re invited to join us at one of our 2014 Film Premiere & Dinner events in select cities across Canada.

A wonderful meal, the company of friends, live music, the premiere of our latest film, and an important opportunity to do something very special for families in Bangladesh await you this April and May.

A film worth seeing
This year’s short feature film, shot on location in Bangladesh by an award-winning film crew who graciously volunteer their time and talent, gives you an intimate glimpse into the struggles and triumphs families experience as they work to lift themselves out of poverty.

Become part of the story
Our evening together celebrates what the world’s poorest families can achieve in their lives and we become part of their success story when we hear their voices, see their faces, and respond to their needs.

More than memories of a wondering evening
Participate in our Silent Auction and take home a special memento made by skilled craftspeople from Africa, Asia, and Central America.

Join us at one of our spring 2014 Film Premiere & Dinner events
View our spring 2014 film premiere and dinner event schedule and join us for what promises to be a very memorable evening.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

In a world of hope, one plus one equals much more than two!

Baagan Bibi and her family live on a small parcel of land outside the rural village of Akbarwala, near the border between Pakistan and northwestern India.

A widow and sole provider for her family, Baagan’s home is a modest one-room house with no amenities.

Baagan and her family can cope having no amenities, but the struggle to put food on the table every day can be a much bigger challenge.

Recently, Baagan shared her story with us and today, we want to share it with you, including the amazing transformation her family as gone through.

It’s always been difficult for Baagan to grow enough vegetables on her small parcel of land, much less buy them in the village of Akbarwala, a number of kilometers away.

“We live far from village”, says Baagan.  Even when I could make the trip in to the village, I often could not buy vegetables due to lack of money.

One day, I was sitting with women who live in Akbarwala and I shared my problems with them and asked if they had some solutions.

It turns out that one of the women had been part of a group of women that received training on kitchen gardening, so I asked her about the training.

Later on, I approached the group who did the training and then participated in training sessions and my basic skills regarding kitchen gardening improved.

In addition, I received seeds of different vegetables, along with gardening tools. I then cultivated my vegetables with the confidence and trust that this season I would not have to purchase vegetables from the market.

Believe me, I not only had enough vegetables to feed my family, but also sold extra vegetables and earned Rs. 10,000 (CAD $105) in the season.

I’m happy and thank HOPE International Development Agency for rebuilding my confidence.

I also promise that I will encourage other women to start kitchen gardening themselves and gain what I have gained through this activity.”

Baagan, like nearly every other person we’re privileged to work with is proof that the people you help through your donations not only improve their own lives, but the lives of others as well!

In a world of hope, one plus one does equal much more than two. In can, in fact, equal an entire village as people, like Baagan pass on the skills that transformed their lives.