Microfinance

The best meal I ever ate

The best meal I ever ate | World Vision Blog

Yolanda (blue apron) works at her taco stand, made possible through a Vision Fund microloan. (©2013 Jon Warren/World Vision)

Happy Thanksgiving! Today, World Vision writer Kari Costanza describes the best meal she ever had, in San Mateo, Mexico — where a VisionFund microloan empowered Kari's hosts, Yolanda and Silverio, to open a taco stand and better support their family.

Biker mom makes the dough

Poverty affects almost every element of a family’s life. It often robs children of their childhoods and can hinder strong, sustainable communities from being built.

But as shown by the story of Sam Mai and her family in Cambodia, a microloan can provide hope for something more -- an independent, self-sufficient future.

International Women's Day: Having it all in Cambodia

Today is International Women's Day. We honor the remarkable achievements of women like Konitha, a mother and entrepreneur in Cambodia who used World Vision business loans to build a life of dignity and hope for herself and her children.

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When I was 12, my mother bought me Helen Gurley Brown’s book, "Having It All." The book offered advice on how a woman could succeed at everything -- love, work, and family. My mother knew even then that her overachieving daughter would have difficulty choosing between having a family and having a career.

PHOTOS: A day in the life…of a Cambodian loan officer

What does daily life look like for a microfinance loan officer? Loan officers are the hardworking folks who interact each day with World Vision Micro entrepreneurs -- sharing business practices, processing their loan applications, and more!

We've asked our staff in Cambodia to give us a glimpse of a day in the life of a Cambodian loan officer. Below is the story, in pictures, of loan officer Nhek Chanthy, who visits a few of Micro's entrepreneurs in central Cambodia.

God used microenterprise to change my life

In July, Deana Calhoun, a World Vision Child Ambassador, visited her sponsored child in the Dominican Republic, where she saw World Vision Micro at work. She blogged about her experiences, which we're sharing below.

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Today, we journey to the Palmera area development program (ADP). It is located in northern Santo Domingo. In order to get to the ADP office, we drive through what is called “the Misery Belt.” It is an area along the river and outskirts of town, where the poorest of the poor live.

We leave the main office and walk a few blocks away to the technical school. There is an art and music building nearby, which we’ll hopefully visit later, but for now, we will see the place where they teach woodworking, upholstery, sewing, hairstyling, baking, and jewelry-making.

Marriage, miracles, and Micro

The following blog post was written by Timothy Hall, Africa's regional field specialist for VisionFund International, the microfinance subsidiary of World Vision.

On my final day in Rwanda, I attended a wedding. Weddings in this part of the world are a blend of the traditional and the modern. The celebrations begin in the morning with negotiations between the two families’ representatives. There are dancers, drums, and traditional costumes throughout. This is followed by lunch, and then progresses to a church where the ceremony is much closer to a typical Western wedding -- complete with a white gown, attendants, candles, and a priest.

The bride was a young woman who worked for one of VisionFund’s microfinance banks, translating and posting information for World Vision Micro. I assumed the man representing her in the negotiations was her father, and I asked a friend if this was the case. “No,” he told me, “I don’t think she has any parents left.”

Tempering the joy at this occasion was the memory, etched in the mind of every Rwandan, of the ferocious killing of the 1994 genocide, during which as many as a million lives were ended. The bride and groom were pre-teens at the time, and it is statistically impossible that there was anyone (aside from myself) at the wedding who did not personally witness a murder or other act of extreme violence.

When vision is fueled by grace

When I met Grace Kapila Shilimbwa in rural Zambia, I had no idea about the story behind the owner of the premier guesthouse in the area. Standing by the recently added feature, a swimming pool, I was deeply curious to find out a little more about Grace’s background and journey.

Grace lost her husband in 1996. “My husband was providing for the family, and I was merely supplementing his efforts, but now, things were different; I had to provide all that was needed.”

After making several attempts to start a business, Grace sought help from a World Vision microfinance institution called HARMOS. With their counsel, she decided to reposition herself and pursue her dream of starting her own restaurant and lodge. This was despite her disability resulting from a stroke she suffered soon after her husband of 20 years had died.

The pain of her loss and the financial stress had taken their toll on her body -- but not her vision.

With a loan from HARMOS, she was able to roof her first structure. With the help of her children, Grace had literally molded bricks and provided the bulk of the labor. But that was just the beginning.

Where kids’ books meet the real story: Building a healthy village

In the afternoon of our first day with World Vision in Sinazongwe, Zambia, Emily Syabubila, a widow and mother of three, gives us a tour of her compound. It consists of a one-room house with two beds for her and her daughters; another one-room home for her son; three raised chicken coops; an outdoor cook hut; and a raised drying rack for her corn.

In my last post, I shared how microloans (similar to those described in my book "One Hen") had enabled her to restore her family to economic and food security after malaria claimed the life of her husband. She now invites us to share in rituals of harvest and shuck dried maize with her. Hard. Then she throws the kernals in the air to winnow the chaff, catching the good grain expertly in a metal bowl. We don’t even dare. But we do take turns pounding the grain in her mortar, and manage to spill enough to attract her hens for the good eats. Where Emily sings as she pounds, we grunt!

Where kids’ books meet the real story: From malaria to microloans

I had the privilege last month of traveling with World Vision to the district of Sinazongwe, Zambia, where rolling hills covered in acacia, cacti, and fruit trees look remarkably like parts of Southern California. But tucked among them are mud brick huts with thatched roofs, small vegetable gardens by muddy pools, and high racks where cobs of maize dry beyond the reach of animals. We pass a small roadside market, where women sell tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, and stalks of sugar cane beside a banana grove.

The statistics of this region belie the bucolic scene. Malaria plagues a quarter of children under 5, often fatally, and affects 9 percent of the overall population, according to Rose Zambezi, World Vision's technical adviser for health. HIV and AIDS persist, too, affecting 14 percent of Zambians. As a children’s book author, I’m especially interested in these statistics as I’m working on a story about an African family that strives to create a “healthy village.”

Four women worth empowering

Today is the 100-year anniversary of International Women's Day, and it seems only appropriate to talk about women. After all, this is a day dedicated to honoring and celebrating the accomplishments of women all over the world. At World Vision, women are a huge part....

An International Women's Day inspiration

Growing up, I remember hearing “women's libbers” decry the unequal status of women in America. For me, it rang hollow. Aren’t women fully equal to men? Women attend college, have careers if they choose, vote. Sure, maybe when International Women’s Day was founded a hundred years ago...