By Fraser Scott, Executive Director, Bright Hope World

There is a Chinese proverb that is probably familiar to all of us: “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” But what if you lent him some money to purchase a fishing boat so he could earn a reasonable living, provide for his family and put his kids through school? This is the life-changing benefit that microfinance and microenterprise can deliver in developing countries.

Bright Hope World has an ‘entrepreneurial culture’. Most of our team are also in business so it comes naturally to us to identify opportunities for the poor to provide for their own needs. This avoids the common tendency to create dependency on outsiders, and gives not only the means to survive and thrive physically, but also a sense of dignity and significance that frequently opens doors to the gospel.

Bright Hope World operates a number of microfinance schemes around the world. Funds are donated by private individuals or churches, and are administered locally ‘in the field’ by one of our trusted and highly capable indigenous partners. Low interest rates are charged and the repayments reinvested back into the scheme to help it grow. Payback rates are typically close to 100% due to the skill and care with which the local partners induct loan recipients and manage the scheme.

One of our loan recipients is twenty five year old Noah, who lives in Njiru, Kenya, just outside of Nairobi.

Noah operates a cellphone accessory shop where he also fixes electrical appliances, TVs, CD players and just about anything else people bring in.

With the assistance of the administrator of the microfinance programme, Noah saved enough to become eligible for a loan and borrowed USD 140 which he used to buy stock for his shop. This has increased his business and income to the point wher o orphan he has o his home. funds which he uses to customers pr and has also been able to to

Noah has a sharp business mind and simply needed the resources to unlock his potential. Doing so has enabled him to provide for his family. This is what small sums of money can achieve when loaned through microfinance schemes.

Bright Hope World provides another microfinance scheme in Zambia. One recipient, Albina, attended an agricultural training programme being conducted by Bright Hope World’s partner in Zambia. In addition to the training she also received a kitchen garden loan for USD 15.

The loan has had a significant effect on Albina’s household. A few years ago she lost her husband and her family could only afford to eat one meal a day. With the training and loan Albina received she has expanded her kitchen garden and is now able to provide two meals a day for her five children and two adopted children.

From her first crop Albina sold USD 47 worth of surplus vegetables and expects to earn USD 218 this year. She is now saving money to repair her house and send her children to school. Increasingly Bright Hope World is seeking to align and integrate microfinance and microenterprise programmes with more traditional forms of mission, such as church planting and orphan care. By providing people with opportunities to create income, in addition to addressing spiritual needs through church planting and evangelism, communities can be genuinely and sustainably transformed.

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