Lessons in Microfinance


I was recently reading a daily reflection: "This day is all I have to work with. The past is over, and tomorrow is out of my reach. I will try to remember what a great gift this day can be and make full use of it." Indeed.

I was also thinking about what makes Five Talents effective. If I am going to devote my time (much of my current life) to this organization, I want to be sure I am making "full use of it."

I hear stories every week of mostly women who have saved as little as 50 cents a week to start a new business. By the time they get a $30-50 loan, they can buy a charcoal stove, farm tools, or other business assets. I used to think micro-finance was about rich folks in the US and Europe lending money to poor people.  Five Talents uses a “savings-group model” in which the poor save small amounts of money and lend money to each other. They have to make a “Shark Tank” sort of pitch to convince their neighbors in the savings group that their business plan is good enough to be one of the first plans to fund. Amazing. I’ve never had to do that. And because they are held accountable by their peers, repayment rates are almost 100%.

So, I am satisfied that this is time very well spent. It’s a time to try new things. As the reflection says, “Maybe just for today, I’ll try standing on my head to see if I like the view.”

Until next Monday morning, blessings,

Dale Stanton-Hoyle
Executive Director, Five Talents USA
Cell 703-472-7679