I am SOOOOOOO happy! SOOOOO blessed! And very fulfilled! But let me back up.
I arrived in Nigeria over 13 years ago. I read in a magazine for missionary women about an organization called HOPE of the Harvest (now Get HOPE Global) that offers business training and micro-loans to impoverished women. I got so excited about the possibilities.
Our family has been doing some work in villages around our city and I had established relationships with a number of women who needed just a little help to empower them to provide for their families better. This was exactly what I needed to be able to offer them HOPE…
As I thought more about it, though, I got a bit discouraged. Business is NOT my forte. How would I be able to teach others something I don’t really know? As I looked at the HOPE materials, I realized that EVERYTHING was there that I needed. I COULD do this! The program spells everything out very clearly, provides the necessary tools and information for each session, and has a system of accountability built in that would be very hard to beat. HOPE provided the funds for qualifying women. Because of this, I didn’t have to worry about the money and could spend my time bonding with my Circle members, encouraging them to be the best they can be, and sharing the source of my Hope with them. The material was already simple enough to be used with illiterate women. It is also made in a culturally sensitive way and would only need little tweaks to make it fit in well with our Yoruba culture here in Southwestern Nigeria.
When the program took off here in Ile-Ife, this past spring there were 50-60 women who attended the opening session… After applying for loans on behalf of the women who made it through the pre-sessions with the attributes we were looking for, we received approval for loans for 23 ladies! …The support I received from the HOPE team was incredible! They were always there for us. As each new challenge came up, I knew many were lifting us up and was always blessed by my HOPE Advocate as she encouraged me over the internet or by phone.
I did make mistakes. Things did always go exactly as I had planned. But, going through this has blessed me SO much. I have learned many things about the people I have lived and worked with for years that I never would have learned had I not done this. I have grown in my own walk as I saw my Circle Women hold fast to Him through one challenge after another.
The women appreciated EVERYTHING they learned. All of them say they view their businesses in a completely different way than they did before this program. They say they also take care of themselves and their families better. It has been exciting seeing how they have grown close to each other and are now their own best support system! They have also grown closer to Him, which is one of my greatest joys.
Seeing the way the Circle ladies have bonded and continue to encourage each other and work together fills my heart with joy! Hearing them praise Him for the difference HOPE has made in their lives is a privilege I wish I could share with all of you!
I have worked with lots of programs, but this is the most thought through and comprehensive package yet. It has empowered me and helped me make an impact on my community that I never would have had without participating in HOPE. Through this program, the lives of many families have been changed from despair to hope. The impact doesn’t end there.
One of the ladies shared how one day, the other women selling things near her, came and asked: “What has happened to you?! Your shop has changed so much, the way you do business is now so different from before and YOU have changed too! We can see your business is getting better all the time. How can we have what you have now?”
I whole heartedly recommend HOPE and their Basics of Business Micro Loan program to all cross-cultural workers who would like to get close to the needy in your community and share with them tools that will change their lives and the lives of those around them not just for today but also for eternity.
I have enjoyed being part of this so much that I am looking forward to the next time I can be part of this program.