“Rather than try to combat poverty from the top-down, microenterprise fights poverty from the ground up by working to directly to change the lives of those most affected by poverty.”
Bishop Simon Chiwanga, Tanzania, Five Talents Founder
Five Talents is an organization of action. It’s not what we aspire to do that transforms lives, it’s what we do, day in and day out, through existing networks in the communities we serve. We like to think we practice what we preach: “Master,” he said, “You have entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.” His master replied. “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:14-30)
Five Talents supports 12 programs in 11 countries, has impacted nearly 500,000 people, and boasts loan repayment rates of 95%. But it’s not just about the numbers. It’s about the stories of transformation.
Bebelyn from the Philippines
Violent winds whipped through Manila’s streets – as torrential rain pounded on John’s fragile tin roof. The flash floods from Typhoon Ondoy engulfed his family’s home forcing 5-year-old John, his baby sister and mom, Bebelyn, to scramble to the rooftop – waiting, hoping to be rescued. This was September 2009.
Bebelyn’s business was devastated, the family home was in complete ruins, and she, along with her two small children, sat among hundreds at an evacuation shelter set up by Community Center for Transformation in Manila, a Five Talents partner in the Philippines.
Bebelyn had joined a Five Talents loan group earlier that year. So, in the midst of this crisis, she turned to them. With a $135 loan, she was able to restock her store and start again.
But, Bebelyn’s group gives her access to more than a small loan Bebelyn sends John, now age 6, to school through CCT’s Vision of Hope Learning Center. John is learning how to read, write and do basic math, and it’s free for loan group members!
Sayani from South India
Thanks to the Self-Help Groups that Five Talents started in South India after the 2004 Tsunami, Sayani has grown from a timid member of a savings group to a leader in her community.
Sayani and her family live on the island of Pulicat, off the east coast of India. After the devastating Tsunami hit her village, it was Sayani who pulled her family together and brought hope for a better life to her daughter and son through her first loan of $126. She used that money to start a firewood business.
Now, she is not only a savings group member but has graduated to the role of trainer, where she facilitates the growth and membership of savings and credit groups in her community.
Her firewood business continues to grow, and she is saving money with plans to build a separate shop for her business, next to her home. With the extra income, she is also paying for her children’s school fees and providing for the medical care her husband needs as he continues to face stomach surgeries. In recent years, he has already had five surgeries to repair damage to his stomach that occurred when he was working as a fisherman.
With her husband unable to work, it has been Sayani who has become the sole income provider for her family as well as a leader in her community.
However, despite the difficulties, this medical challenge has inspired her daughter’s desire to become a doctor. Anushiya wants to help heal her daddy and those like him. Anushiya is one of the brightest students in her school, and with her mother’s new found confidence and financial security, her desire to become a doctor is more than just a dream; it’s a vision and a true hope for a better life.
Natalana Ahok from Sudan
Just two years ago, this mother of five boys was struggling to make ends meet by selling a few household items in her small shop in the Lietnhom market. But since she had no business training, she had difficulty making a profit.
When Five Talents began offering business skills training in her village, Ahok enrolled in the adult education classes. She then obtained her first loan from the Amat Wuot Community Bank, the first village bank in South Sudan. She used that $75 to buy a freezer so she could sell cold soft drinks. Ahok has since taken out and repaid three additional loans and now has two businesses — a restaurant and a household goods shop. Then, in early 2009, Ahok was named chairlady of the village bank. Click here to read Natalana Ahok's full story.